Home Run Derby, Vol. 1

Now that baseball’s annual home run derby has become an unwatchable, three-hour long dinosaur, it’s refreshing to re-watch the 1959 TV series Home Run Derby, in which the top major leaguers of the day slugged their guts out in an empty stadium (L.A.’s defunct Wrigley Field, which was modeled after the famous Chicago ballpark) for a prize of $2,000. Each half-hour episode of Home Run Derby features power-hitting icons like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle (as well as lesser-known greats of the era such as Jackie Jensen, Rocky Colavito and Ken Boyer) competing head-to-head in a tense, nine-inning format. As with any home-run contest, it’s entertaining but quickly repetitive, and host Mark Scott runs through his arsenal of baseball clichés by about the second episode.