In 1982, baseball fans watching WTBS all across America were treated to a new type of television show the likes of which they had never seen. “It’s A Long Way To October”, a 3½ hour cable TV special which showed the life of a major league baseball team from spring training to a division-winning clubhouse celebration, took viewers into the Atlanta Braves locker room, behind the closed doors of private front office meetings with team owner Ted Turner and staff, out onto the mound with Braves manager Joe Torre as he talked with pitchers or argued with umpires, and into the dugout as Torre and coach Bob Gibson discussed game strategy. Braves club owner Ted Turner, the most dynamic figure in the cable industry at the time (over 30 years ago), came up with the idea of the show, realizing that all of the ingredients were there to enable him to make this a television first. By not only owning the team, but also the cable TV station WTBS, it was possible to get cameras into locker rooms, dugouts and team meetings where they were never allowed to go before. As a result, the show became the most talked about sports program of the season and received the cable industry’s highest honor, an “Award For Cable Excellence” (ACE) for outstanding achievement in sports programming! Now, thanks to the restoration expertise of Rare Sportsfilms, Inc., baseball fans everywhere can once again watch this landmark show – the complete, behind the scenes story of the 1982 N.L. Western Division-winning Atlanta Braves, now on DVD!
Host of the show is legendary baseball broadcaster Red Barber, and right from the start, you’ll hear new manager Joe Torre’s first clubhouse speech of the season to all the players in spring training. Later, you’ll see and hear Torre tell young speedster Eddie Miller that he has just been traded to the Tigers. The Braves’ Major League best 18-6 record in Florida is a glimpse of what soon is to come as the Braves open the season in San Diego. Padre manager Dick Williams and Torre are miked at the first meeting at home plate before the season begins. One of the most captivating parts of the show is coverage of the amazing all-time major league record 13-game winning streak to start the ’82 season! The Braves can do no wrong as they sweep the Padres, Astros (Opening Night series in Atlanta), Reds at Riverfront, Astros at Houston, and return home to face the Reds again and tie the Oakland A’s major league record of 12 wins in a row! Win number 13 is an especially dramatic, come-from-behind affair over the Reds which sends Atlanta fans into a celebration frenzy still remembered by many to this day.
The season moves along and by the end of May the Braves are in New York facing the Mets who had just fired Torre months earlier. Torre banters with NY reporters asking about the big change in Joe’s career. One evening, you’ll have dinner with Torre and his staff at Ponte’s, one of Joe’s favorite NY restaurants. The Braves adopt the nickname “The Cheese People” and in July, pitcher Phil Niekro, third baseman Bob Horner and outfielder Dale Murphy are shown at the All-Star Game in Montreal.
Seeing the players behind the scenes throughout the season is the theme of the show, however you’ll also come to meet other team personnel and their duties, such as trainer Dave Pursley, clubhouse manager John Holland and travelling secretary Bill Acree. Watch the players as special guest Olivia Newton-John visits the clubhouse one evening before a game. The show also focus on stories surrounding the club throughout the season: third base coach Dal Maxvill, the umpires, particularly Paul Runge and Harry Wendelstedt, Tommy Boggs’ rehab from rotator cuff surgery, a moving interview with Al Hrabosky after he is told by the Braves that he is “washed up”, and star slugger Dale Murphy, who would eventually win the N.L. Most Valuable Player award for 1982.
But in contrast to the winning streak to start the season, the club also has losing streaks. When the Braves’ big early season league lead is finally down to 1½ games, club owner Turner calls a meeting in his office. For the first time you’ll get to see and hear what is said behind closed doors as the staff is questioned and personnel are admonished. Jerry Royster’s famous 9th inning error which gave the Dodgers a game in Los Angeles is shown and Royster comments about it afterward. Other game-losing errors and mistakes are shown as the Braves just can’t seem to stop giving games away. Then, just as it seems that things cannot get any worse, an unexpected event turns the season around – the still-remembered Interstate -285 Pascual Perez incident.
In August, Hank Aaron is inducted into baseball’s Hall Of Fame. You’ll hear Hank’s induction speech and also see the unveiling of the new Hank Aaron statue outside Atlanta Stadium. In September, the team holds its own private meeting to give out individual awards to players and coaches. You are there as Jerry Royster moderates the event and presents among others, the “Guillotine Award” to rookie Kenny Smith, the “Gopher Ball Award” to Phil Niekro and team MVP award to Dale Murphy. See and hear the recipients’ comments to their fellow players!
Here are some of the many Braves players you’ll see and hear on this DVD: Brett Butler, Glenn Hubbard, Bob Horner, Bruce Benedict, Chris Chambliss, Claudell Washington, Rufino Linares, Rafael Ramirez, Ken Dayley, Terry Harper, Larry Whisenton, Randy Johnson, Biff Pocoroba, Matt Sinatro, Rick Mahler, Gene Garber, Joe Cowley, Rick Camp, Larry Bradford, Steve Bedrosian and Jose Alvarez, as well as players and coaches on other teams.
The season reaches its dramatic climax in the final week, as the contending Braves face the Giants, Dodgers and Padres on the west coast to end the regular season. Atlanta has a one game lead with three to play. Ageless Phil Niekro pitches his second shutout in a row at San Diego (also hitting a memorable HR) on Saturday night as the Braves clinch at least a tie! The second place Dodgers are in San Francisco, and Joe Morgan’s famous three-run HR in the last game of the season sinks L.A. as the Braves, who have just been beaten by San Diego in their final game, watch the game on TV in the club house. As Vince Scully describes the finish on TV, the Braves suddenly erupt into a spontaneous celebration as they have just won the Western Division!
This remarkable program is now available on a huge two-disk DVD set (200 minutes running time) for $39.95 plus $5.00 shipping. (Illinois residents must add $2.00 sales tax.)
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