Baseball’s Greatest Games: 1979 Wrigley Field Slugfest [DVD]
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BASEBALL S GREATEST GAMES * WRIGLEY FIELD SLUGFEST * MAY 17, 1979 * THE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES WIN THIS WRIGLEY FIELD CLASSIC FEATURING THE POWER OF DAVE KINGMAN AND MIKE SCHMIDT
The Phillies, having won the prior day s game at Wrigley 13-0, jumped out on top 21-9. With the Chicago faithful straining for hope--lo and behold, in one of the wildest Wrigley Field slugfests of all time--the Cubbies stormed back to knot the score at 22!
The stage for this scoreboard jamming contest was set in the first stanza. The Cubs starting pitcher recorded only one out, allowing six runs, while the Phillies starter--who homered in the first inning, also exited after recording only one out and allowing five runs!
The two lineups were filled with stars: Mike Schmidt (2 home runs), Larry Bowa (5 hits), Bob Boone (5 RBI), Bill Buckner (7 RBI), and Dave Kingman (3 home runs). Yes, the wind was blowing out that day at Wrigley.
Direct from the Major League Baseball archives, this rare and extraordinary television broadcast includes the quintessential making of a Wrigley classic, mind-boggling offense and one unforgettable baseball game.
A special DVD audio feature allows fans to watch the television broadcast and listen to the radio play-by-play!
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One thing I'll suggest is to not look at the back of the DVD case (prior to viewing the entire game), as it lists various highlights as well as presenting the inning-by-inning score of the game. Regarding picture quality, it's actually surprisingly good for the era. Obviously not remotely HD-quality, but the picture seems fairly comparable to what you'd have seen in 1979 if you watched it live, with perhaps some minor degradation due to time. Although the picture does look slightly "fuzzy" (soft focus) from the outfield camera (showing the live view of the batter), this seems to have been as it was at that time - as the close up views from other cameras give you quite a sharp picture. Some of the time the reds seem pinkish, especially on the Phillies uniforms, although other times (from other camera angles) the reds are true deep red, so again this is likely simply the game as presented, rather than a problem of tape degradation. All in all though, it's more than watchable quality, really good for the era. The tv announcers are Jack Brickhouse (for all but 3 innings) and Lou Boudreau (for 3 innings), which adds to the nostalgia for Cubs fans. Alternately, you can choose to listen to the Phillies radio broadcast as you watch the action, via a language option. There's even a brief appearance by beloved college basketball coach Ray Meyer, and also by a Chicago Bulls player (John Mengelt) who speaks about a couple of young NBA prospects who'd just finished their college careers - Magic Johnson and Larry Bird!
So what's the flaw here? Well it's missing a tiny bit of the action. There are two points (that I noticed) where the first pitch is not shown, you see what you think is the first pitch and then are told it's "1 and 1", or "0 and 2" or whatever. Those two points don't matter much, BUT, there's a dramatic point in the game where Dave Kingman strides toward the batter's box as the next batter... and.... they don't show any of that at-bat! Basically you see Kingman approaching the batter's box, and the next thing you see is Steve Ontiveros standing at the plate, ready to face his first pitch of his own at-bat. Huh? So an important, high-drama at-bat was missed entirely (other than the build-up ahead of it), and for that I'm dinging this by one star. You can figure out what happened (sort of), but it would have been great to see that at-bat. There are no special features, save for the language options and ability to start at any half-inning you choose. There's no post-game wrap-up, no years-after-the-fact interviews. The game just starts (it does include some brief pre-game introductions) and then ends just a few moments after the last out. But it's still great to see this, and at this price, no special features are needed. Obviously the DVD makers would have loved to show that Kingman at-bat, but I assume it was lost for some reason, and it's better to see all this than nothing at all. Thanks to MLB Properties, A&E etc. for this well-done offering of a memorable game and time period.
Thursday, May 17, 1979 was no ordinary day, though--when I turned on the TV, I couldn't believe that the Cubs were down 21-9 to the Phillies. Even as a third grader, I knew I was watching a game I'd never forget as my team clawed its way back into it, tying the game at 22-22 before finally falling 23-22 in ten innings.
I was thrilled to see the game available on DVD. It seems that there were many other Cubs-Phillies slugfests at Wrigley Field in the late Seventies and early Eighties (I distinctly recall a 12-11 Cubs win in June 1982), but none of them compared to this contest. I later learned that the score was 7-6 after the first inning, which neither starting pitcher survived. Bill Buckner and Dave Kingman were two of my favorite players then, and they both had huge days, and Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose came up big for Philadelphia that day.
While watching the game you can choose between hearing the Phillies' radio broadcast or the Cubs' television broadcast. Jack Brickhouse was a great announcer for the Cubs, and it was great to hear his "Hey Hey!" home run call after all these years. At one point in the broadcast, Brickhouse said that "we've got ourselves a real marathon"...in the third inning when the score was 11-6 and less than 40 percent of the runs had been scored. This game definitely had a late Seventies feel, too, with the powder blue road uniforms that were en vogue at the time, and in a couple of spots you can even hear typewriters clicking away in the background in the press box. It was also interesting to recall Wrigley Field minus some of the bells and whistles that exist today.
I can recall looking at the outrageous box score in the paper the next day and may even have cut it out, knowing it was a game to remember. Even today, when you type "Cubs Phillies" into Internet search engines, two of the leading suggestions offered are "23-22" and "1979." It was a treat to finally watch the game in its entirety a third of a century later, and even though I knew the final outcome, while watching the late innings I found myself wishing that the Cubs could have pulled out a win in this classic.
The final score of 23-22 is one of the highest combined scores of all time. It's great watching greats like Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, Larry Bowa, and "King-Kong" Kingman again, still in their prime, and to see old pitchers like Tug McGraw and Dennis Lamp take the mound once more. Whats even more great is watching both teams swinging for the fences in an epic battle. Neither team willing to succumb, deadlocked at 22 all and going into extra-innings, until Mike Schmidt drove in the final run in the top of the 10th to finally end it. A game I could watch over and over again - and I'm not even a Phillies or Cubs fan!
The DVD is basic overall but does have one great feature, you are able to not only select which inning you would like to see, but also which half of the inning which is an awesome feature.
Overall, a great DVD of an amazing game for a good price.