Friday, May 30, 2008

DVD Review: The Boston Red Sox - Essential Games of Fenway Park

On June 3, A&E Home Video will be releasing an exciting new six-DVD set called, "The Boston Red Sox: Essential Games of Fenway Park". A&E was gracious enough to provide me with a review copy of the DVD set, as well as a second set that I will be giving away to one of you through a contest. I will post the details of the contest separately, but seeing as how the face value of this DVD set is $59.95, I encourage you to join in for a chance to win a free copy!

The Boston Red Sox - Essential Games of Fenway ParkA&E set out to discover, directly from Red Sox fans, what they felt were the greatest games ever played at Fenway Park. Red Sox Nation voted, and the top six games were chosen. In this DVD set, each of these six games is presented in its entirety as it was originally broadcast (excluding commercials, thank goodness). This should sound very tempting to any true Red Sox fan - the ability to pop in a DVD and watch one of these classic games at any time - perfect during those long off-season droughts! What games would you have chosen? Well, I'm sure each of us has some very special games in mind, but I feel the games selected are terrific. My only surprise was that no games from the 2004 World Series run were chosen (although "the Steal", and Papi's walk-off hits are included in the bonus features). So, let's get down to the review...


The DVD set comes in an attractive, compact, and sturdy metallic case. Each DVD is emblazoned in red, indicating the game, the date, the opponent, and the box score of the game. Nice touch, and very attractive. My only confusion was that none of the discs indicates where the Special Bonus Features are located. A minor oversight, but to save you the search, they are at the end of disc #6. The only other thing I was surprised at, was that there is no insert at all in the box - just six discs. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I was surprised there was no fold out pamphlet with photos, disc index, and credits on it. But, there are also no advertisements stuffed in there either, so, I'm not complaining!


This is a no-frills collection of these games. Each disc starts up quickly to a menu where you can select to play the entire game, or jump to a particular inning. This is nicely done by highlighting a cell in the box score, making it easy to pick an inning with scoring. None of the discs includes any sort of introduction to the game, which I found a little disappointing. It would have been nice to have had a brief introduction (that the viewer could opt to skip) of each game to set up the situation in terms of the importance of the game's outcome (ex: losing the '67 game would have eliminated the Sox from playoff contention), why the game was special, what makes it one of the top six, etc. I'm sure they would have had celebrities lining up to do such introductions, Johnny Pesky might have been my choice.

The games themselves are tremendous. The games have been copied from the original tapes, and the quality is fully dependent on the quality of the archived tape. Watching the old games truly brings you back in time, listening to the original broadcasters, seeing Fenway before it's makeover, noticing the styles worn in the crowd, and appreciating how far broadcast technology has come. But, the most wonderful part is seeing some of the best players in history (Red Sox as well as opponents) competing at their very best level. Just a thrill to watch!

I did find one goof. One of the Bonus Features is titled "Vintage Film" Yaz 1968 World Series Highlights at Fenway". As far as I can recall, Yaz did not play in the '68 WS. I believe they meant 1967? Oops.

The Games:

Sept. 30, 1967: Regular Season vs. Minnesota Twins

This game was a true gem to watch. It was the second to last game of the 1967 season, and the Red Sox were one game behind the Twins for first place. A loss on that day would have eliminated the Red Sox from the playoffs. Carl Yastrzemski and Harmon Killebrew of the Twins were both tied for the league lead in home runs with 43, and both homered that day. All the while, Yaz was in the running for the triple crown (which he would be the last winner of). Along with the fabulous 1967 Red Sox, you get a wonderful look at Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, and Tony Oliva playing at their very best. The quality of the video is not bad, considering how old it is. Fenway Park looks great, and the Green Monster initially looks bare with no Coke bottles or seating. This game truly is special. Watch for Vice President Hubert Humphrey sitting along side a very young Ted Kennedy in the front row by the Sox dugout!

1975 World Series Game 6 vs. the Cincinnati Reds

I'm sure we all know this is the famous game where Carlton Fisk willed his home run fair in the bottom of the 12th inning, but have you ever watched the whole game? Luis Tiant with his unique pitching style, the fabulous Freddy Lynn patrolling center field, Bernie Carbo's home run to save the game, Carl Yastrzemski still out in left field after all these years, and Don Zimmer coaching third base. And what about the Bid Red Machine? It was fun to see Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Ken Griffey Sr., and of course, every one's favorite announcer, Joe Morgan, all playing in their prime! I had forgotten about Fred Lynn knocking himself unconscious plowing into the center field wall at full speed in a futile effort to chase down a fly ball. Remember, the wall was not padded then! Have a laugh watching the relief pitchers get driven from the bullpen in the old golf cart! New technology can be witnessed compared to 1967 - instant replays!

April 29, 1986: Regular Season vs. the Seattle Mariners

While most sports fans were across town at the Boston Garden, Roger Clemens was writing the first chapter in his legacy. This game is thrilling to watch as every inning the strikes just keep piling up. It has the intensity and build up of a no hitter. The right field wall is covered with "K" signs by the ninth inning as Clemens approaches history with a 20 strike out game!

1999 MLB All Star Game

This has no pre-game contests or hype, just the ball game. And you know what - it was a great one. The beginning is special as Pedro Martinez, in only his second season with the Red Sox and at the very top of his game, starts the All Star game off by striking out the first four batters he faces! And remember who the opposing pitcher is for the NL? None other than our very own Curt Schilling. Manny Ramirez, still with the Indians, is also a sight to see. One of the best All Star games in modern history.

1999 ALCS Game 3 vs. the New York Yankees

Unfortunately, the Red Sox eventually lost the ALCS to NY that year, but this game gave Red Sox Nation something to cheer about. Pedro Martinez faced off against ex-Red Sox star, Roger Clemens. Pedro was truly on his game that day, striking out 12 Yankees on the way to a 13-1 blowout that sent the Fenway fans home smiling. A great chance to see the quality of team the Yankees had that year, while they were on their way to a World Series win!

April 22, 2007: Regular Season vs. the New York Yankees

To be honest, I'm not sure I would have included this game over, say, game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, but it is a good one as Manny Ramirez, JD Drew, Mike Lowell, and Jason Varitek hit four consecutive home runs off of Chase Wright in the third inning. The win features Daisuke Matsuzaka's debut against the Yankees and culminated in the first sweep of the Yankees at Fenway Park 17 years.

Bonus Features:

The bonus features are fun, but appear quickly assembled - almost an after thought. But, they do help round out the set and are worth watching. They are:

  • The Origins of Fenway Park
  • Ted Williams: Fenway's Hometown Hero
  • Ted Williams Throws out First Pitch at 1999 All-Star Game
  • Vintage Film: Yaz 1968 (oops) World Series highlights at Fenway
  • Yaz 400th HR and 3000th hit
  • Red Sox Clinch 1986 ALCS in Fenway
  • Brunansky's amazing catch clinches 1990 AL East Crown
  • Last Inning of Derek Lowe's No-Hitter (4/27/02)
  • Red Sox score 10 runs before making their first out (6/27/03)
  • Bill Mueller walk-off HR vs. Mariano Rivera (7/24/04)
  • Dave Roberts: "The Steal" 2004 ALCS Game 4
  • Big Papi's 2004 Postseason Walk-off Hits
  • Last Inning of Clay Buchholz's No-Hitter (9/1/07)


This is a terrific addition to any Red Sox fan's collection. You will be preserving a genuine piece of red Sox history in your own home. would make a terrific Father's Day gift! Definitely worth the purchase. The list price is $59.95, but it is currently on sale for $41.97. I'd definitely try to grab it on sale.

For more information, and to buy the DVD Set, go to:

Sets will be available for sale at and (presuming you are not the lucky winner of the contest!)


Peter N said...

Nicely done...I was at the second and first game of the set. Talk about me dating my age! Great job, Rooster..

Rooster said...

You were at both? That's incredible (not about the age - about the fact that you were at two of the top 6 games at Fenway!

I watched all but 2 of the games live on TV. The '67 game was a bit before my time, and I missed the Clemens 20 K game. But, I saw all the others.

I encourage people to submit an entry to Peter's contest as well. Why not give yourself an additional chance to win this great DVD set?

Suldog said...

Jeez, nice review, Rooster. You put a good amount of work into that. Appreciate it!

Rooster said...

Sul - I work hard for my audience - I do it for the love of the game!

Thanks! It really is a great DVD set - especially the older games.

I'll post the fun contest in a bit. Encourage people to enter!

Insight said...

How do we enter the contest?

Insight said...

Never mind.....didn't read far bad!

Rooster said...

The contest rules have now been posted - probably just as you were commenting, Insight.

Should be fun - I hope you enter!