Bronx Zoo ’90 documentary unearths Yankees’ untold chaos plaguing the Bronx in 1990

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The 1990 New York Yankees are once again making headlines, but this time it’s not for the reasons you might expect.

Peacock has unveiled its latest documentary series, “Bronx Zoo ’90: Crime, Chaos and Baseball,” delving into the tumultuous off-field escapades and fiery on-field clashes of the iconic team, offering a fresh perspective on a season marked by controversy thirty years on.

The trailer kicks off with a voiceover that shatters the conventional narrative: “There’s a Yankees story you’re accustomed to hearing. The iconic Hall of Famers, the 27 championships, the dynasty,” “Well, this is not that Yankees story. This is the one they don’t want you to hear.”

The trailer then catapults viewers back to 1990, a year that New York Post columnist Joel Sherman famously labeled a “hilarious nightmare” for the Yankees. It was a season so abysmal, so utterly compelling in its awfulness, that it held a morbid fascination.

Peacock’s latest offering takes its cues from Sherman’s scorching “Bronx Zoo” series for The Post. On camera, Sherman reflects on the Yankees’ meltdown in 1990, describing it as “sheer insanity.”

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Sherman’s unfiltered assessment in a 2020 article left no doubt: “Horrendous doesn’t even scratch the surface of the 1990 Yankees. While every sport endures its share of disappointments, this was a calamity. A spectacle of humiliation. A monumental collapse.”

The forthcoming documentary series “Bronx Zoo ’90: Crime, Chaos, and Baseball” delves into the bizarre and unforgettable aspects of the 1990 New York Yankees season. Here’s a glimpse into the key narratives the documentary explores:

The Steinbrenner-Winfield feud and its repercussions

The series will delve into the highly publicized clash between Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and star player Dave Winfield. It will examine Steinbrenner’s controversial decision to compensate gambler Howie Spira for damaging information about Winfield, a move that ultimately led to Spira’s conviction for extortion. The public fallout from this incident culminated in Commissioner Fay Vincent handing Steinbrenner a lifetime ban from baseball, a decision that surprisingly received a standing ovation from Yankee Stadium fans.

Mel Hall’s shocking misconduct

The documentary will also shed light on the disturbing actions of outfielder Mel Hall. Interviews conducted from prison, where Hall is serving a 45-year sentence for the sexual assault of a young girl, will expose another bizarre incident. Hall reportedly brought two cougars into the clubhouse, resulting in them urinating on the carpet. Adding to the unsettling details, Hall’s family photo in the team yearbook featured him posing with his 15-year-old girlfriend at her prom.

Seeds of future success sown amidst the chaos

Despite the turmoil of the season, “Bronx Zoo ’90” will highlight some positive developments that laid the groundwork for the Yankees’ future success. The signing of future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera and the drafting of future championship core members Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada will be explored. Additionally, the documentary will examine the arrival of Gene “Stick” Michael as General Manager in August, marking a shift in the team’s leadership.

Deion Sanders’ two-sport dream turning sour

An intriguing story explored in the series will be Deion Sanders’ ambitious attempt to play both Major League Baseball and the NFL in the same year. The documentary will delve into Sanders’ time with the Yankees and the challenges he faced in pursuing his two-sport dream, which ultimately fell short.

As Sherman aptly summarizes, the 1990 season for the Yankees was a period that began with “utter failure on and off the field,” but remarkably concluded with “utter triumph” by the end of the decade. “Bronx Zoo ’90” promises to be a fascinating look at this complex and pivotal year in Yankees

1990 Yankees: When the Bronx was truly burning

“Bronx Zoo ’90” offers an in-depth exploration of the 1990 Yankees squad, revisiting everything from their error-filled season (culminating in a tumultuous record of 67 wins and 95 losses) to the controversial incident of bringing illegally acquired cougar cubs into the Yankee Stadium clubhouse, former owner George Steinbrenner‘s relentless campaign against Dave Winfield, the tumultuous career decisions of MLB/NFL star Deion Sanders, and more.

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“I’ve been trying to erase that team from memory,” confesses former Yankees manager Buck Showalter in a candid moment showcased in the trailer.

The sports documentary series also delves into the headline-grabbing romance between former Yankees outfielder Mel Hall and then-high school student Chastity Easterly. At the time, Easterly, merely 15 years old, found herself in a relationship with a professional athlete, offering a rare glimpse into the complexities of their connection.

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At 63 years of age, Hall was handed a 45-year prison term in June 2009 after being found guilty on three charges of severe sexual assault and two counts of inappropriate conduct with a minor, as outlined by ESPN. Presently, he is serving a 40-year sentence at the H. H. Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony, Texas.

“Bronx Zoo ’90” makes a significant stride by presenting Easterly’s firsthand recollection of her ordeal on camera. Additionally, the series features an exclusive interview with Hall, conducted from his prison cell, offering a rare insight into his perspective.

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Despite the relentless string of controversies that pushed the team to its breaking point, “Bronx Zoo ’90” uncovers an unexpected silver lining. The tumultuous events of the 1990 season, as depicted in the documentary, are argued to have set the groundwork for one of baseball’s most formidable dynasties.

In the words of New York anchor Rosanna Scotto, “Losing is simply not part of the New York DNA.”

The unvarnished truth about the notorious ’90 Yankees

The tumultuous 1990 season of the New York Yankees was epitomized by a peculiar incident during spring training, an event that encapsulated the team’s disarray and became a lasting memory of a truly unprecedented year.

Facing scrutiny for their off-season maneuvers, the Yankees had inked a hefty three-year, $5.7 million contract with the controversial right-hander Pascual Perez, despite his well-documented off-field woes. However, when the lockout concluded in March, Perez’s absence from the camp raised immediate red flags.

Eventually located in the Dominican Republic, Perez was found basking in leisure with friends, indulging in beers and playing dominoes. Yankees officials promptly arranged for his return to Florida on the eighth day of spring training. Enraged by the situation, team owner George Steinbrenner demanded swift action. Upon Perez’s arrival in Fort Lauderdale, Steinbrenner issued an unusual directive – Perez was to participate in a surprise bullpen session.

Adding to the surreal nature of the circumstances, reporters who had already departed the stadium were hastily summoned back. Stadium lights were illuminated to accommodate the impromptu evening session. Donning his full uniform, Perez and pitching coach Billy Connors went through the motions of a bullpen session, commencing around 7 pm under the watchful gaze of the media.

Regrettably, Perez’s season came to an abrupt end just three starts into the regular season due to a shoulder injury, rendering the substantial contract even more questionable in hindsight.

Reflecting on the incident years later, Joel Sherman, a baseball columnist for The Post at the time, noted the unconventional and seemingly punitive nature of the late-night bullpen session, especially considering the significant financial investment the team had made in Perez. Sherman underscored how this event became a microcosm of the entire 1990 season, a year replete with ownership controversies, peculiar on-field outcomes, and even a memorable no-hitter.

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A peculiar spring training incident involving a late-night bullpen session for a newly acquired pitcher marked the commencement of a tumultuous season for the 1990 New York Yankees. This remarkable season, chronicled by sportswriter Joel Sherman in a 2020 New York Post series, is now being brought to life in a three-part documentary titled “Bronx Zoo ’90: Crime, Chaos, and Baseball,” set to premiere on Peacock on May 16th.

While the 1990s Yankees are celebrated for their dynastic reign, capturing World Series titles in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000, the early years of the decade presented a stark contrast. Reflecting on that period, Sherman likened it to living in a zoo, where familiarity with the surroundings might initially mask the overall abnormality of the situation. As Sherman covered the team, he gradually recognized the extraordinary nature of the circumstances, ultimately acknowledging them as a pinnacle of peculiarity in sports journalism.

“Bronx Zoo ’90: Crime, Chaos, and Baseball,” a collaborative effort between Believe Entertainment Group, New York Post Entertainment, and Whitecap Entertainment, is set to premiere exclusively on Peacock on Thursday, May 16th. The series boasts appearances from legendary figures such as former Yankees Don Mattingly, Steve Sax, Dave LaPoint, and Kevin Maas, alongside current general manager Brian Cashman and iconic announcer Michael Kay.

This documentary promises an in-depth exploration of a season unlike any other in Yankees history, offering a glimpse into a chaotic period before their championship years.

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