Hitter [1979]

You don't have to be a physics major to appreciate this insiders' look at the combination of science, mechanics, and instinct that has produced baseball's greatest hitters, past, present, and future. Mark McGwire may say, "You see [the ball], you hit it," but as the 45-minute program thrillingly demonstrates, it is not that easy. Hitters on Hitting fields an awesome lineup of Hall of Famers and contemporary superstars, from "students of the game" (Ted Williams, Wade Boggs, and Tony Gwynn, praised here by his peers as "the thinking man's hitter") to the "naturals" (Larry Walker, Ken Griffey Jr.). The legendary Williams, the last player to hit .400, notes that hitting a baseball is the game's "hardest single thing to do" (and, he adds, perhaps the reason why so many slugger wannabes eventually give up and retire to the golf course). Wade Boggs echoes, "You can do everything absolutely right, and still fail." Slow-motion batting practice footage and awe-inspiring game highlights complement the hitters' expert, albeit sometimes arcane, commentary. Adding their perspective are pitchers such as Mike Marshall and Randy Johnson, who discuss "the art of keeping the hitter guessing." There is also a humorous segment on unusual batting stances (Tony Batista) as well as unusual pre-bat rituals (Nomar Garciaparra). The DVD features a text history of one of the All-Star Game's most popular events, the Home Run Derby, as well as highlight footage from each Derby from 1989 to 2000. Another supplemental segment further explores the "Science of Swing." But as Cal Ripken Jr. states at one point, "It's too darn complicated to explain." So just relax and enjoy watching in action these "students" who are in a class by themselves. --Donald Liebenson

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