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Baseball: The Tenth Inning

Airs Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 3 p.m. on KPBS TV

Credit: Courtesy of AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki

Above: The Boston Red Sox' David Ortiz is mobbed by teammates after his game-and series-winning 10th-inning home run against the Anaheim Angels in their 2004 American League Division Series.

Thousands of bats, three home run records and one "curse" have been broken since Ken Burns last explored the history of America's national pastime with his landmark 1994 PBS series "Baseball."

Now, Burns and co-director Lynn Novick update the series with "The Tenth Inning." Beginning with a crippling strike that alienated millions of fans and brought the game to the brink, this new film tells the tumultuous story of our national pastime up to the present.

It celebrates baseball's new Golden Age - an era of unprecedented home run totals, popularity and prosperity - and sheds light on one of the game's darkest chapters - the steroid era.

The two-part, four-hour film examines the compelling stories of Joe Torre, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martinez, Ichiro Suzuki, Cal Ripken Jr. and Barry Bonds and features insightful commentary from an eclectic lineup of writers, broadcasters, fans and all-stars.

Episode One: "Top Of The Tenth" airs Sunday, April 1 at 3 p.m.

In 1994, the national pastime faces its worst crisis in 70 years when a bitter and prolonged strike forces the cancellation of the World Series, infuriating fans dismayed by the athletes and teams they once worshipped. Baseball has to rebuild. And rebuild it does, with new stadiums, an infusion of new players from Latin America and the shattering of historic records previously considered unbreakable. Cal Ripken Jr. sets an amazing record of consecutive games played, helping rekindle the country's love of the game.

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Barry Bonds, son of the great right fielder Bobby Bonds, signs the most lucrative contract to date in baseball history and thrills San Francisco fans. Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux pitch the Atlanta Braves to the pinnacle. Dazzlingly talented Latino players make an indelible mark on the game.

The Yankees, led by manager Joe Torre, return to glory after two decades of disappointment. Bulked up sluggers Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captivate the nation as they chase Roger Maris' single season home run record. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, more and more players are making life-altering decisions about how far they are willing to go to succeed.

Episode Two: "Bottom Of The Tenth" airs Sunday, April 1 at 5 p.m.

In the first decade of the 21st century, baseball is booming. In an age of home runs and power, Pedro Martinez and a handful of other superb pitchers still manage to dominate. The astonishingly talented right fielder Ichiro Suzuki becomes MLB's first Japanese position player and a hero back home. As America reels from the horror of the 9/11 attacks, baseball provides solace, and in an incredible World Series, gives the country something to cheer about.

As the rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox reaches the boiling point, long-suffering Boston fans rejoice in their first World Series victory in 86 years, while Giants and Cubs fans endure devastating losses. Barry Bonds demolishes Mark McGwire's home-run record and sets his sights on Henry Aaron's revered all time mark. The game is more popular than ever, but revelations about steroids cast a shadow on many of the era's greatest stars and their historic accomplishments.

Ken Burns (PBS) is on Facebook, and you can follow @kenburnspbs on Twitter.

The Tenth Inning: Mike Barnicle's Gloves

Mike Barnicle talks about the baseball gloves he's had since 1954. "The Tenth Inning," is a two-part, four-hour documentary film directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. A new chapter in Burns's landmark 1994 series, "Baseball," "The Tenth Inning" tells the tumultuous story of the national pastime from the 1990s to the present day.

The Tenth Inning: Ken Burns And Lynn Novick

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick discuss the upcoming documentary, "The Tenth Inning," a two-part, four-hour documentary film directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. A new chapter in Burns's landmark 1994 series, "Baseball," "The Tenth Inning" tells the tumultuous story of the national pastime from the 1990s to the present day.

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