I’ve been a fan of the Atlanta Braves since the mid-1980s, but I’ve never seen “It’s a Long Way to October,” the documentary of the 1982 Braves. Today there is a detailed writeup of it over at The Sporting News, complete with multiple video clips.
It was a project that was ahead of its time. Ted Turner, who owned the Braves, ordered a season-long, in-depth documentary about his ball club. He gave a young Glenn Diamond — a baseball producer for TBS for decades, but who was then a local TV news guy — full access to the team, the clubhouse, the dugout, and especially manager Joe Torre, who was often mic’d up for games. There was practically nothing off limits. It was like “Hard Knocks” for baseball or some sort of reality show, back in an era where behind-the-scenes access was not the sort of thing people expected all that much of.
There are several clips embedded in the story. My favorites involve Torre, who many younger fans may remember as a stoic, sometimes statue-like figure in the Yankees or Dodgers dugout, and who now is MLB’s stern, rulebook-waving uncle, but who in 1982 was fiery and animated. Red Barber narrated the thing. Olivia Newton-John makes an appearance. There’s a big argument from Torre after a play involving part of the wall down the left field line breaking away, causing fans to spill on the field, preventing Bob Horner from scoring. It was timeless in some ways, but very 1982 in some others.
It’s a long article, but one worth reading. If you don’t have the time for it, at the very least watch the video clips. It’s all pretty amazing.