One-of-a-kind DVD set relives '77 Series

One-of-a kind DVD set relives '77 Series

In 1977, at the age of seven, I became a baseball fan. The reason? My hometown New York Yankees. That year, the team dubbed "The Bronx Zoo" by the local press because of the circus-like atmosphere that constantly surrounded them would embark on one of the greatest postseason rides baseball fans ever have experienced.

On Oct. 18, in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the World Series, Reggie Jackson got hold of a Charlie Hough knuckleball. As Howard Cosell bellowed, "Oh what a blow," I experienced the feeling of euphoria for the first time in my young life. When the ball landed in the black seats in the deepest part of Yankee Stadium, Jackson had accomplished what only Babe Ruth had before him -- three home runs in a World Series Game. An inning later, the Yankees had defeated the Dodgers to win the 1977 World Series, their first title in 15 years.

While the recent and much publicized ESPN docudrama of the 1977 Yankees season, "The Bronx is Burning," definitely has stoked the nostalgic embers of Yankees fans, they might find something even more satisfying to their sentimental longings. It's called the real thing.

For the first time, Major League Baseball Productions, in partnership with A&E Home Video, has made it possible for baseball fans to relive the entire 1977 World Series in its recently released The New York Yankees: 1977 World Series Collector's Edition DVD Box Set.

The seven-DVD set can be purchased through the Shop for $69.99. The set includes: All six World Series games (unedited and commercial-free), the decisive Game 5 of the Yankees vs. Royals American League Championship Series, and 23 bonus cuts, containing the clubhouse victory celebration, the World Series trophy presentation, the Reggie Jackson-Billy Martin dugout confrontation at Fenway Park, and many rarely seen interviews of Yankees and Dodgers players sharing some of their greatest World Series stories.

A nice caveat to the box set is the packaging. Each individual DVD contains a wealth of information on a dapperly designed case. The thin disc cases are each garbed in a sleeve designed by SleeveStats that wraps neatly from front to back. Before fans even pop in a disc, they will find themselves enjoying the cases themselves. The front page includes the line score, starting pitchers, the attendance, the game time temperature, and interesting tidbits and trivia. (For example, before Game 1, the top 30 floors of the Empire State Building were lit up in blue and white to salute the Yankees.) On the inside, an inning-by-inning recap is provided, and on the back, fans can find the full box score.

One of the delights of rewatching the 1977 World Series is listening to the three-man booth of Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson and Tom Seaver. Even before Game 1 begins, one cannot help but smile when Cosell introduces the Dodgers lineup: "Batting fourth, the slugger Ron Cey. They call him the Penguin, he walks like a duck."

The troika works fluently throughout the Series: Jackson giving a rhythmic, crescendoing play-by-play; Seaver, as analyst, responding insightfully to his cohorts' veteran setups; and Cosell delivering his dramatic best. Cosell's penchant for making even an ordinary development exciting is on full display from the first pitch to the last, like in the top of the seventh inning of Game 1 when describing how Yankees starter Don Gullett has settled down: "I must say, in perspective, that [the] battered Yankees pitching staff appears to have been resuscitated by the re-emergence of Mr. Gullett."

The 1977 World Series has many undertones, as it is the thrilling revival of the storied Yankees-Dodgers rivalry. This is their ninth World Series meeting, and only their second since the Dodgers bolted Brooklyn. It's Tommy Lasorda's first year as manager of the Dodgers. It's the first time one can see the beneficial effects of free agency -- Gullett, Jackson and Catfish Hunter all play major roles in the Yankees' triumph. It's the first time a team (the Dodgers) has had four players hit 30 home runs in the same season. And, of course, it is the culmination of a season colored by the renowned soap opera centered around owner George Steinbrenner, Martin and Jackson.

One of the highlights of the box set can be seen in the bonus features on the Game 5 ALCS disc, where a fan can rewatch the infamous Billy-Reggie dugout confrontation at Fenway. MLB Productions shows all the fireworks as Reggie and Billy go at it, and they replay Jim Rice's checked-swing double to right field many times, so a fan can see once and for all if Reggie was really loafing. You can then listen to interviews with Paul Blair, the man who replaced Jackson in right, and Ron Guidry, who had an up-close view of the confrontation, as they explain their perspectives on the incident.

Other highlights you won't want to miss from this collector's edition:

• The Graig Nettles/George Brett rhubarb in the bottom of the first inning of Game 5 of the ALCS.

• The Yankees' ninth-inning comeback in Game 5 of the ALCS.

• Paul Blair's game-winning hit in the 12th inning of Game 1 of the World Series.

• The famous "Bronx is Burning" fire during Game 2 of the World Series.

• Jackson's historic performance in Game 6, when he hit three homers on three consecutive swings.

The Yankees' 21st World Series championship is truly one of the great experiences in Major League history. For any fan who wants to relive these moments, this DVD box set is for you. As Cosell opined after Reggie hit his third home run of that unforgettable Game 6, "What a spectacular performance!"

Carl Shimkin is a freelance writer, NYC taxi driver and author of the MLBlog Inside Pitch. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.