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Documentary - Knuckleball!

Knuckleball!

Knuckleball!
Directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg
Documentary
VSC 2013
80 minutes plus 2 hours extras.

Knuckleball! is a must for any serious baseball fan and a still very interesting documentary if you are only a casual fan of the sport. Knucleball!  looks at baseball's oddest pitch and most misunderstood and underevaluated player, the knuckleballer. It also makes a case for looking at baseball with more than a moneyball approach. The documentary last 80 minutes and there are some 2 hours of extras featuring greats of the game. Also available at Amazon US

A major reason this documentary is so good is directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg are very, very smart. They let the players tell the story while background information is supplied through play-by-play announcers and game footage as well as important baseball journalists.

The documentary focuses on Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield and Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey. Neither player has had it easy in terms of getting to the show. Both, however, had or have had much, much longer careers. What got them in the majors is the knuckleball and what allowed them to be successful for so long is the knuckleball. You would think than a pitch that allows you to play in the majors in your forties would be popular with all pitchers but R.A. Dickey is the only knuckleballer left  in major league baseball because Wakefield retired after the 2011 season and winning his 200th game.

Knuckleballers are also a tight knit group so when one gets in trouble with his pitch, others such as Charlie Hough, Tom Candiotti, or the great Phil Niekro are more than willing to take the time to help a colleague.

A very important moment in Knuckleball! that should be played to any GM is when Tommy John explains that baseball has become a game of speed and power so teams will sign a guy with a 100 mile-an-hour fastball who can't strike out a pee wee hitter but will pass on a knuckleballer who can strike out the side.

There are also quite a few good secondary tales in this baseball documentary.  Both Wakefield and Dickey really had to believe in themselves to get as far as they got. You also have to give an MVP award to Dickey's wife and high school sweetheart who always supported her husband's dream.

There are quite a few very good baseball documentaries out there. Knuckleballer! is definitely in the top five.

Other VSC sports titles we loved and reviewed:

The WHA Chronicles: The story of the Wold Hockey Association plus the last two AVCO Cup games and the Whalers versus the USSR

The Roller Derby Chronicles - 3 DVD Set

Other baseball documentaries we love:

 

Bottom of the Ninth

Spaceman A Baseball Odyssey

Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story

 


Richard Lanoie

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