Tag Archives: Attendance

Boston’s New Fenway Park Packs In 45,400 Fans -1934

How They Squeezed 45,400 Fans Into Boston’s Fenway Park

Fenway Park April 22 1934There’s only one way to get 45,000 people into Boston’s Fenway Park and that is to let the fans sit everywhere, including the outfield.

Yes that’s right, square on the field of play.

Boston’s owner Tom Yawkey never spared expenses when it came to his beloved Red Sox. After the 1933 season during the height of the Great Depression, Yawkey decided to update Fenway Park.

The biggest changes would be the new outfield stands in center and right field. And of course the new 37 foot tall left field wall which would eventually become known as the Green Monster.

During the renovation on January 5, 1934, a large fire destroyed the bleachers and the outfield walls which had wood, oil and debris stored under them.

After the clean-up,  work was quickly resumed and the new outfield stands were made fireproof, being encased in reinforced concrete. The new electronic scoreboard indicating balls, strikes and outs was an innovation. The feature known as Duffy’s Cliff, a hill in left field, was removed, leaving only a small incline.

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Ebbets Field Draws A Small Crowd – 1951

A Virtually Empty Ebbets Field As The Brooklyn Dodgers Draw Just 2,612 Fans During The Heat Of The Pennant Race – September 15, 1951

Ebbets Field Small Crowd 1951 9 15The Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley constantly complained that Ebbets Field was not suitable for the Dodgers. Six years after this picture was taken, the Dodgers, enticed by a sweetheart deal, packed up and broke Brooklyn’s heart by moving to Los Angeles. The name O’Malley was forever muttered by Brooklynites with contempt from that day on.

If the Dodgers had attendance like this all the time, you couldn’t blame O’Malley for the move, but this sparse crowd was an anomaly. Here is the original caption to the photo:

PLENTY OF EXCITEMENT BUT FEW CUSTOMERS

There was plenty of excitement at this moment during first inning of the Dodgers- Cincinnati Reds game at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NY, Sept. 15, (1951) but not many fans to voice their support or disapproval. A crowd of only 2,612, the smallest Ebbets Field attendance since 1934 saw the display of fireworks in final game this season between the two clubs. The Dodgers outslugged the Reds 11-5, to protect their three-game lead over the pursuing New York Giants. – Associated Press Photo

The Dodgers did not end up protecting their lead and ended up tied with the Giants at the end of the regular season. This necessitated a best of three play-off series which the Giants dramatically won with Bobby Thomson’s ninth inning home run on October 3.

One Big Reason Baseball Is Dropping In Popularity

Catering To The Next Generation Of Baseball Fans

You may have read that one of the 2014 World Series games was competing for viewers with a Thursday night football game. The television audience for the World Series ended up being less than half of that of the football game.

No surprise there as football has become the dominant televised sport in America. So besides letting World Series games be played at night when the next generation of fans is going to bed, what else is MLB doing to discourage young people from getting to like baseball?

This photograph below will clue you in:

Group Seating Citifield September 2013

Group Seating Citifield September 2013

This photo taken in mid-September 2013 shows a class trip of 12-year-olds at Citifield, the New York Mets ballpark.

It was a beautiful sunny weekday and the Mets and San Francisco Giants were playing for nothing, nada, zilch. Both teams had been eliminated from any playoff possibilities weeks earlier.

Obviously with group seating the Mets gave the kids the best possible seats in the house to get them engaged and interested in the game, right?

Well of course not. Group seats are usually in the farthest reaches of the ballpark and these were no exception, in the corner of the upper deck in right field in section 503.

Now I understand why the Mets and most other teams put group seats in generally undesirable places. These are seats that will usually never be sold, because who wants to pay $15 or more and sit in the stratosphere. The Mets are not going to give $75 seats away for $15 to a group.

But this photograph below shows the kids view of the game and the reality of how many fans were at the ballpark just 10 minutes before starting time.

Citifield 10 minutes before game time

Citifield 10 minutes before game time

It never got much more crowded than this when the game got underway. The announced attendance was 22,897. Everyone there knew that there was no possible way that there were even 12,000 people at this game. The ballpark remained as you see it: thousands of empty seats in huge clusters.

There were schoolgirls sitting on either side of me and both were attending their first baseball game. Being a chaperone on this trip, they asked me questions and tried to watch from our birds-eye vantage point. As the game progressed, with the exception of the few boys who follow baseball, most of the children lost interest rapidly.

For many of the kids who were in attendance this would be the only game they would ever go to because they had no interest in baseball before the game, and were not going to have any interest after the game.

What could the Mets have done?

They should have taken the thousand or so children that were in the four to five large groups seated in the far reaches of the upper deck and moved them to seats anywhere closer to the field. When I actually mentioned this to the Mets personnel man in charge of groups in our section he looked at me like I was crazy and said that was not possible.

It was indeed possible if someone from the Mets ticketing, marketing or publicity department could have had a bright idea and made an executive decision and said something like, “Hey, the season’s virtually over and our ballpark is pretty empty today. You know what might get us more fans in the future? Let’s move these kids down to decent seats so that they will be close enough to be involved in the game. Maybe some of them will come to appreciate and love baseball if they can actually see what is going on up close, rather than watching the jumbotron screen or straining to see the ant-size ballplayers from their mile away seats. This would be a good way to develop a new generation of Mets fans.”

Well that never happened and it probably never will happen. Unless MLB and their teams realize that they are rapidly losing a huge part of their future baseball audience, baseball  will be as popular here as cricket.

Babe Ruth, Dewayne Wise And Mistakes Umpires Make

Umpires Make Mistakes: See Baseball History 101

Photo Mike Stobe / Getty Images

Everyone is in an unnecessary uproar over the  Dewayne Wise phantom catch of a baseball that disappeared into the crowd at Yankee Stadium on June 26, 2012 during a 6-4 Yankee victory over the Cleveland Indians.

The umpire, Mike DiMuro is human. He made a mistake and admitted it after the game. That was the right thing to do.

Do you want the game to stop every time there is a controversial play? Aren’t the games slow enough?

Mistakes similar to this have been happening since baseball began and have been forgotten unless they affect the pennant race or a World Series game.

One forgotten incident that occurred on August 1, 1920 was whether Joe Jackson of the Chicago White Sox actually caught a baseball Babe Ruth hit into an overflow crowd at Comiskey Park.  The aftermath of that play is shown below.

Babe Ruth & Miller Huggins argue with umpire Tom Connolly, Bob Meusel (with bat) listens © blackbetsy.com

Going into the game against the White Sox, Ruth was on a tear, having hit 37 home runs already, shattering his own record of 29 home runs set the previous year. Continue reading

Babe Ruth’s 1920 Uniform Sells For $4.4 Million At Auction

Babe Ruth, King Of The Sports Memorabilia World

Nearly sixty-four years after his death, Babe Ruth set another record on Sunday May 20, 2012 . His circa 1920 Yankees road jersey sold at SCP auctions for a staggering $4.4 million.

Photo © SCP auctions

This eclipses the previous highest amount paid for a piece of sports memorabilia, a Honus Wagner baseball card, which sold in 2008 for $2.8 million.

To put the amount of the sale price in some perspective, Babe Ruth earned approximately $910,000 during his entire major league baseball playing career from 1914 -1935. This of course does not account for inflation. In modern dollars with inflation Ruth would have earned $15.3 million.

Also Ruth made vast amounts of money during the off-season, barnstorming and doing various product endorsements and personal appearances.

How would Ruth have felt about his uniform selling for more than he made his entire career? I’d like to think Ruth would have had a good laugh at that fact.

Babe Ruth, second from left, with his Yankee teammates, early 1920’s

Here is a photograph of Babe Ruth early in his New York Yankee career during spring training, possibly wearing the multi-million dollar uniform.

On a side note

The Kansas City Royals defeated the New York Yankees last night, May 21 at Yankee Stadium by a score of 6-0.  What made me notice this otherwise unremarkable game was what the New York Times said today in the sports section:

But the clutch-hitting woes of the Yankees — not just their wheezing All-Star first baseman — remained for another game, a 6-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals in front of 39,229 fans.

Anyone attending or watching the game on television knows the announced attendance of 39,229 was a joke. Looking at the mostly empty stadium, there were probably no more than 8,000 people attending the dreary game, which was played under a constant, steady rain.

The idea that baseball attendance is counted not by clicks of the turnstile, but by tickets sold is ridiculous. It’s another slight problem in a laundry list of things that MLB should address before baseball becomes completely irrelevant.

The Agony of Defeat

The Day After The Yankees Were Swept in a Late Season Doubleheader – 1954

The day of September 13, 1954 was not a happy one for Yankees fans as can be seen in the photo above. Reality sank in for eleven-year-old Walter Golle as he sat in front of Yankee Stadium. The dejection shown in Walter’s face reflected the fact that the Yankees would not be in the World Series for the first time since 1948 when Walter was five-years-old. The Yankees had won five consecutive World Series from 1949-1953.

The day before, on September 12, the Cleveland Indians had swept the Yankees in a doubleheader in Cleveland. The games were witnessed by 86,563 fans, the largest crowd to ever see a baseball game in the cavernous Municipal Stadium.

September 12, 1954 Municipal Stadium Filled

Bob Lemon won the first game 4-1 for his twenty-second win of the year and Early Wynn triumphed 3-2 in the second game for his twenty-first victory. The Yankees ended the day being 8 and a half games behind the Indians, reducing Cleveland’s magic number for clinching the pennant to three games.

The Indians would go on to win an American League record 111 games, and finish the season eight games ahead of the Yankees.  Miraculously the New York Giants defeated the heavily favored Indians four games to none in the World Series.

Walter eventually got over the Yankees 1954 failure. Here is what he looked like 46 years later in 2000 from The Norwood News Inquiring Photographer.

When The Record Books Are Wrong

The New York Yankees Actually Hold The MLB Record For The Largest Attendance In A Regular Season Game.

Records are made to be broken…that is if anyone knows about them.

If you look up the largest attendance during the regular season to see a major league baseball game, the Sporting News Baseball Record Book and many online sources claim that the paid attendance on September 12, 1954 of 84,587 at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium is the largest ever.  The Yankees were visiting the Indians that day for a doubleheader and were battling for a pennant that Cleveland would eventually go on to win. The Yankees finished in second place with 103 wins (no wild card in 1954)!

But is the 1954 Indians-Yankees game the regular season record?

Probably no one, with the possible exception of the members of SABR (the Society for American Baseball Research) really cares, but the official record books are wrong.

On September 9, 1928 The New York Yankees and Philadelphia Athletics were in a tight battle for first place, a half game separating Continue reading