Wins, Losses, and Empty Seats: How Baseball Outlasted the Great Depression

By David George Surdam | Go to book overview

Prologue
Clash of Titans

Two of baseball’s most famous teams arrived at Yankee Stadium on September 9, 1928 for a four-game series that began with a doubleheader. The Philadelphia Athletics, managed by Connie Mack, held a one-half game lead over the New York Yankees.

While many writers and fans have since anointed the 1927 New York Yankees as the greatest team ever, the 1928 edition was having trouble defending their title. The team had built a sizeable lead throughout the summer before watching the Athletics roar back. The 1928 team did not enjoy good health, and such standout pitchers as Herb Pennock, Wilcy Moore, and Urban Shocker missed starts throughout the season. In addition, despite the label “greatest team of all time,” the Yankees had mediocre players at shortstop, at third base, and behind the plate.

Connie Mack had needed a decade to rebuild his Philadelphia Athletics after he sold most of his star players between 1914 and 1915. Now he had a nucleus of future Hall of Fame players in Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons, Jimmie Foxx, and Lefty Grove. To provide veteran leadership, Mack signed Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, and Eddie Collins. By September, however, the Athletics were using the veterans sparingly. Eventually, these seven players and Mack would all be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame.

The Yankees had manager Miller Huggins, Earle Combs, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, and Tony Lazzeri in addition to Babe Ruth and Lou

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Wins, Losses, and Empty Seats: How Baseball Outlasted the Great Depression
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • Prologue Clash of Titans 1
  • 1- The Financial Side of the Game 5
  • 1- The American Economy and the State of Baseball Profits 7
  • 2- Why Did Profits Collapse? the Revenue Side 27
  • 3- Why Did Profits Collapse? Player Salaries and Other Expenses 59
  • 4- Farm Systems 95
  • Conclusion of Economic Side 109
  • 2- The Game on the Field 111
  • 5- Competitive Balance 113
  • 6- Player Movement 131
  • 3- Using League Rules to Aid in the Recovery 157
  • 7- Helping the Indigent 159
  • 8- Manipulating the Schedule to Increase Revenue 169
  • 4- Innovations to Boost Attendance and Profits 195
  • 9- Radio and Baseball 197
  • 10- Baseball under the Lights 219
  • 11- Other Innovations 247
  • 12- How Effective Were the Innovations? 279
  • 13- The Inept and the Restless Franchise Relocation 285
  • Epilogue the End of An Era 301
  • Appendix 1- Radio and Sunday Ball's Effect on Attendance 307
  • Appendix 2- Dramatis Personae 309
  • Appendix of Tables 315
  • Notes 353
  • Bibliography 399
  • Index 405
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