With the possibility of a Yankees-Dodgers World Series on the table (again), ESPN Films is rolling out a feature about the rivalry between the teams in the late 1970s.
Fritz Mitchell, who directed the 30 for 30 episodes The Legend of Jimmy the Greek and Ghosts of Ole Miss (along with a pair of SEC Storied features), directed the Yankeed-Dodgers: An Uncivil War, which is narrated by Rob Lowe.
“It was a fun challenge to tell the story of baseball’s most traditional rivalry and to document the Dodgers and Yankees on their inevitable collision course through a two-year period,” added Mitchell. “I’m old enough to remember the summer of 1977, the blackout, the Son of Sam and Reggie Jackson’s three home runs, but I had forgotten about the turmoil of the Yankees and was unfamiliar with the Dodgers clubhouse angst. Both New York and Los Angeles were going through periods of profound change and despair. I found that the troubles of baseball’s free agency era mirrored those of society and the ‘me generation,’ a time that seems eerily similar to today.”
The documentary features extensive interviews with virtually all the living protagonists of the tale, from Reggie Jackson and Steve Garvey to Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Willie Randolph, Ron Cey, Graig Nettles, Steve Yeager, Mickey Rivers, Bucky Dent and Dusty Baker, as well as many of the writers and reporters who covered the teams at the time.
Maybe I’m being picky, but the Yankees and Dodgers also faced off in the 1981 World Series, with many of the same players from 1977 and 1978 involved, so why not talk about that season too? Then again, I’m commenting before seeing the film, so maybe it does get a mention at the end.
ESPN has been rolling out various features like this one under different branding all year. We’ve gotten four editions of 30 for 30 (The Tuck Rule, Shark, The Greatest Mixtape Ever, and Dream On, with more announced), five (by my count) editions of E60, a handful of shorts, and several that only got the “ESPN Films” branding (including the Derek Jeter docuseries, Dickie V, and Fate of a Sport). I wish there was a little more clarity on how the branding was decided for each feature, but it really doesn’t matter much as long as the overall quality is consistent.
Yankees-Dodgers: An Uncivil War premieres at 9 PM ET on Tuesday, September 27th on ESPN, and will be available to stream on ESPN+.