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

By David George Surdam | Go to book overview

13. The Inept and the Restless
Franchise Relocation

Major League baseball’s lineup of teams had remained stable and had been limited to the northeast quadrant of the continental United States since 1903. The populations of the ten cities with Major League Baseball, however, had changed both absolutely and relatively. The economic downturn of the 1930s further revealed the inability of some of the cities with two teams to sustain both clubs. St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Boston were declining in population relative to New York and Chicago. Detroit was growing rapidly. With Minor League teams and entire leagues folding in 1931 and 1932, observers called for the consolidation of teams and the relocation of teams in geographically sensible leagues.1 The Major Leagues were not immune to such suggestions.

The Sporting News editorial page began hinting that some Major League franchises might move to other cities. An editorial examined the existing rules pertaining to relocation, mindful that no relocations had occurred since the American League’s Baltimore team moved to New York and became the Yankees (after being the Highlanders for a while). An owner could move his franchise if he could convince a supermajority of his fellow owners to approve the move and if he could offer sufficient payment for invading someone’s Minor League territory. At the winter meetings in December 1939 both leagues made the rules covering relocation more restrictive by requiring a unanimous vote in favor. At the same meetings some owners tried to establish a

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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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