Does the Cheerleading Ever Stop? Major League Baseball and Sports Journalism
Anderson, William B., Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly
Some commentators argue that sports journalists cater to Major League Baseball (MLB) officials; others contend that, although sports reporting at one time included such compliance, times have changed. This article suggests both sides offer too simplistic an explanation for how sports journalists cover the baseball beat. A comparative analysis of newspaper coverage of Major League Baseball labor situations in 1890 and 1975-- 1976 demonstrates that regardless of the time period some sportswriters supported MLB owner points while others more closely scrutinized management missives.
As he wrote about the Philadelphia Athletics' defeat of the New York Giants in game six of the 1911 World Series, New York Press sportswriter Fred Lieb glanced over at one of his colleagues in the press box. Lieb noticed, "tears rolled down Sid's [Mercer of the New York Globe] cheeks as he dictated the details of [the Giants'] bitter defeat."1
For some, this episode illustrates the nature of baseball reporting; that is, sports journalists are boosters and cheerleaders for the Major League Baseball (MLB) teams they cover and for the entire baseball industry. One early twentieth-century sportswriter noted, "The majority of reporters with teams were bitterly partisan, as much so as were the ballplayers. The reporters were regarded by the players as part of the team and were expected to uphold the team in arguments and in its battles with opposing clubs. The majority did."2
Some commentators argue that sports journalists still respond to MLB in the same acquiescent manner; others contend that, although sports reporting at one time included such compliance, times have changed. This article suggests both sides offer too simplistic an explanation for how sports journalists cover their beats. A comparative analysis of newspaper coverage of Major League Baseball labor situations in 1890 and 1975-1976 demonstrates that regardless of the time period some sportswriters supported management messages while others more closely scrutinized owner missives.
Newspaper coverage of Major League Baseball's labor problems merits scholarly scrutiny for several reasons. Academic researchers tend to ignore sports news, even though the sports section accounts for more than 20 percent of editorial content in metropolitan daily newspapers-- more than any other category of news. This section of the newspaper also represents a significant business investment for publishers. As one commentator noted, "Sports in the United States has become a $50 to $60 billion-a-year business-one of the nation's largest-which U.S. newspapers spent about $500 million to cover in 1988."3
Despite such readership and financial commitment, many commentators still view sports journalism as less serious than public affairs, perhaps because publishers have traditionally held the sports section to lower standards than other sections of the newspaper. One editor called sportswriters "hero worshippers" who would "sit in the press box and actually cheer when the team they were covering scored."4 Another writer noted that sportswriting was so "partial and so predictable that, on many occasions, it resembles more the work of a master of ceremonies than that of a journalist."5
Some observers even suggest that sportswriters should fill the role of cheerleader. One maintained that sportswriters should be held to different, more lenient, standards than reporters on other beats because the local media "use sport for boosting community pride to allow themselves more leeway in their coverage of other facets of community life. The lack of a critical stance in the area of sports is part of what the media give up to their community to gain authority to challenge governmental leaders and other community institutions."6 One writer argued that sportswriters should be "story tellers. They should tell truthful yams."7 Another suggested that the sportswriter should "exalt sports to the point where those contests are indoctrinated into the public mind as virtual religious rituals."8
Other commentators propose that although sportswriters filled the cheerleader role in the past, this label no longer applies. Sportswriters, according to one journalist, began the transition from hero-worshiping to legitimate journalism during the 1960s.9 Another observer concurred, noting that the creation of Sports Illustrated in 1954 and the growth of television forced newspapermen to go beyond bare-boned and play-by-- play in their reporting in the 1960s and 1970s.10 More recently, a 1994 survey of sports journalists found that they held themselves to the same professional standards as their peers covering other beats.11 One commentator even claimed, "Gone are the days of reporters and editors who served as cheerleaders for the home team. The contemporary sports journalist is serious, critical and thorough."12
Labor Relations in Major League Baseball. We can determine whether twentieth-century sports journalists were more "serious, critical and thorough" than nineteenth-century sports journalists by how each group covered an off-the-field subject such as labor relations. Major League Baseball, as the earliest organized professional sport in America, has been the model for all other sports leagues. The MLB organizational system consists of management that controls the industry's business operations and labor who are contracted employees, have no ownership interests in the organizations for which they work, and have no voice in league operations. In this system, the players are subject to the whims of the owners, including being traded or sold to other clubs without their consent. The players first challenged this arrangement in 1890 and finally won freedom from owner control over their movement in 1976.
Baseball came under owner hegemony with the formation of the National League (NL) in 1876. NL co-founder Albert Spalding explained the league's operating principles: "Like every other form of business enterprise, Base Ball depends for results upon two interdependent divisions, the one to have absolute control and direction of the system, and the other to engage-always under the executive branch-in the actual work of production."13 To maintain this dichotomy, the NL owners instituted a reserve clause in player contracts in 1879, which allowed teams to "reserve" players to prevent them from selling their services to the highest bidder and thus lowered salaries.14
Frustrated with this governance system, the players formed a union, the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, in 1885. Five years later, with the players still upset by owner control over the game, the Brotherhood created its own league. The Players' League of 1890 was the only attempt to create a rival league organized on a different basis than the management-labor system: players were investors in their teams and financial backers would share the profits equally with the players. The NL owners -in a battle dubbed the 1890 Brotherhood War-drove the Players' League out of business, and with the new league's defeat the structure of professional sports was entrenched.
After Albert Spalding and the other NL owners crushed the Brotherhood rebellion, the players had to wait until the creation of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) in 1953 to gain some power in their relationship with the owners. Still, even with this union, the players made few advances in their subservient relationship with the owners until they hired Marvin Miller to head the union in 1966. Miller negotiated the 1969 agreement that raised the minimum salary, increased the pension fund, and won for players the right to use agents in bargaining for salaries with owners, and brokered the 1972 agreement, which won for players the right to arbitrate their salary disputes.15
In 1975, the players scored another major coup when they won the Messersmith-McNally case. That year, Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Andy Messersmith refused to sign his 1975 contract and, after playing the season under his former contract, claimed his right to free agency. Messersmith's appeal (along with that of pitcher Dave McNally) went to a three-member arbitration panel that upheld the players' claim by a 2-- 1 vote. The decision effectively circumvented the reserve clause established in 1879. When the owners failed to overturn the decision in the courts, they staged a lockout of spring training camps in 1976, claiming that the latest labor agreement had expired with no new contract in place. Subsequent negotiations in the summer of 1976 confirmed the Messersmith-McNally decision, which meant the end of the reserve rule and the beginning of the players' free agency.16
History of Sports journalism
During the 1975 arbitration case and the 1976 lockout, rather than negotiate a more favorable settlement, the owners relied on their tried-- and-true publicity technique-attack the players through compliant sportswriters-to try to achieve their aims. The owners expected sportswriters to support their position during this dispute because the journalists had backed them with a few exceptions throughout the history of the game. Baseball and newspapers had learned even before the Civil War that each needed the other. Newspaper coverage of baseball increased the game's popularity, and more coverage typically equaled increased circulation for newspapers. This symbiotic relationship with the game meant more often than not the newspapers provided baseball with favorable publicity.17
Nineteenth Century. Newspaper and periodical publishers noticed this symbiotic relationship as early as the late nineteenth century. By the 1880s, many daily newspaper editors had recognized the nation's interest in the game, with most allocating a full page to sports with a focus on baseball. By the 1890s, most newspapers in America had created a sports staff, and it was during this time that sportswriting began to develop as a full-time job on the nation's newspapers.18 Magazines such as The Police Gazette and sporting weeklies such as The Sporting News and Sporting Life also devoted considerable space to the game. In 1884, after only one year of existence, Sporting Life boasted twenty thousand readers, and within three years the circulation rose to forty thousand.19 By 1887, The Sporting News claimed sixty thousand readers.20
During this time, the influence of advertisers over editorial content began to creep into the newspaper business.21 Still, some sporting publications during the Brotherhood War resisted advertising threats. For instance, one baseball magnate tried to convince businesses to stop advertising in The Sporting News since the paper supported the players. The editor replied that he was "supreme in his position" and maintained his pro-Brotherhood stance. In the end, the owner's campaign, rather than discouraging advertisers, "created sympathy" for the Sporting News, and in the following month the paper's advertising revenue actually increased.22
Yet, after the failed players' revolt, the sporting pages entered into what one historian described as "intellectual prostitution."23 This is not to suggest that owners continued to bribe reporters or threaten to shut papers down as they did during the Brotherhood War; rather it suggests that most sportswriters bought and reinforced the notion that the owners knew what was best for the players and the game. In other words, after this labor dispute, MLB control over sports page content became almost absolute. It was not until the 1960s and 1970s that sports reporters again questioned MLB's labor relations policy as vehemently as they did in 1890.
Twentieth Century. Aided by compliant sportswriters who promoted its benefits, baseball's popularity grew in the early twentieth century. And as the game expanded, so did the sportspage. One historian observed that sports coverage grew from a weekly average of seven columns for each newspaper in 1910 (almost 9 percent of the newshole) to ten columns in 1920 (15 percent of the newshole).24 Much of this sports coverage focused on baseball. One 1922 commentator noted, "The average daily newspaper will devote more space to baseball than to any other one topic."25
By the 1930s, extensive baseball coverage in a local newspaper was almost a given. A Sporting News editor explained, "In covering baseball, papers are only satisfying a demand on the part of their readers, and such coverage, from a strictly news standpoint, helps a newspaper to retain and develop circulation."26 A 1929 American Society of Newspaper Editors report noted, "All large city newspapers now surrender four or five pages to sports news on weekdays and eight or even ten pages on Sundays. The AP has a twelve-man sports staff. ... The International News, out of 45,000 words in a full thirteen hour report, carried 5,000 words on sports."27
Baseball enjoyed such favorable coverage until the Great Depression. During this era, national newspaper advertising dropped from $860 million in 1929 to $552 million in 1939. The economics of producing a newspaper shriveled the available space for nonadvertising material, and the trend toward narrower columns and larger typefaces shrank wordage even further. The percentage of the newshole dedicated to sports dropped from 15 percent in 1920 to 13 percent in 1930.(28) By 1933, The Sporting News argued against giving professional baseball free publicity, saying, "Any attraction that is worthwhile is worth advertising."29
With the post-World War II economic recovery, however, the sports media returned to more extensive coverage of organized baseball.30 One editor noted that during this time daily newspapers devoted as much as 15 percent of editorial space to sports and that 25 percent of readers bought newspapers for the sports section.31
By the 1960s and 1970s, broadcast media, especially television, expanded its sports coverage, and newspapers responded with sports sections that grew in both allotted space and scope, and changed to include more investigative journalism and lifestyle reporting.32 Unfortunately for MLB owners, other sports such as professional football cut into this increasing sports coverage and diminished baseball's hold on the media.33 Also, sports coverage was not just booster-oriented anymore. The Vietnam War and Watergate sapped the trust between government and other large organizations and the press.34 This affected some sports reporters as they moved away from cheerleading to more objective writing, with some exploring the "hidden dimensions of baseball, churning out stories dealing with authoritarianism, racism, sexism, unionisim, drug abuse and other social issues embedded in the game."35
Although some sports reporters began to engage in investigative journalism, others hesitated to cover issues such as management-labor relations. According to one historian, "many journalists and sports editors wished to ignore the business aspects [of baseball], hoping, apparently, that they would just go away and quit spoiling the 'game.'"36 This analysis will focus on those journalists who chose not to ignore the 1890 and 1975-76 labor disputes.
The author reviewed the 1890 and 1891 editions of the two NL owner-funded publications-Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide and Reach's Official American Association Base Ball Guide-to determine owner messages during the Brotherhood War. To examine how sports journalists responded to these messages, the author searched the newspaper clippings contained in the "Players' League" archival file in the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library (NBHFL) in Cooperstown, New York, the largest repository of baseball-related information. Within the "Players' League" file, all clippings dealing with the Brotherhood War were reviewed, including articles and columns from Sporting Life (21 total clippings), New York Clipper (20), The Sporting News (18), New York Times (3), Chicago Tribune (3), Harper's Weekly (2), Brooklyn Daily Eagle (2), Chicago Herald (2), New York World (2), Boston Daily Globe (1), and Brooklyn Record (1).
The articles and columns were studied to determine if the language the journalists used was slanted toward either management or labor. Typically, the words the journalists used to describe the owners and the players established their bias. For instance, the author cast one Sporting Life column as pro-labor when the journalist called NL leader Albert Spalding: "Czar Spalding" and "the great reconstructionist."37
The author used the same analysis process to illustrate the variety of opinions regarding the 1975 Messersmith-McNally arbitration hearing and the 1976 lockout. To find articles and columns on these labor issues, the author reviewed the following newspapers: Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Washington Post. These papers were chosen due to their geographical disparity, national prominence, and availability of microfilm. The author reviewed microfilm of these newspapers from October 1975 through March 1976 to gather owner quotes and to determine how the sports journalists covered and reacted to the owner's messages. The author examined 42 news pieces from the Chicago Tribune, 21 from the Los Angeles Times, 51 from the New York Times, 27 from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and 27 from the Washington Post. The author also reviewed 12 articles in periodicals (Esquire, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Time, and U.S. News & World Report) found after a review of the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, 1975 and 1976.
During both time periods, many sports journalists went beyond the action on the field to report on the MLB's management-labor relationship. This analysis suggests that by the 1970s not all sportswriters had moved beyond an organizational mouthpiece role and that in 1890 not all sports journalists were pawns of MLB ownership.
A comparison of these two eras is possible due to the similarities in the messages owners distributed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. First, owners during both time periods argued that the players were greedy and selfish, and that only the owners could preserve the national pastime. Second, the owners tried to capitalize on public opinion against those players who were overcompensated for playing a game. Third, the owners maintained that the players' demands would lead to the financial ruin of the baseball enterprise. The remainder of this section will detail owner messages, followed by an analysis of the press coverage of these missives.
Only the Owners Can Manage the Game. The precept that the owners were necessary to run the game began in the nineteenth century. Before, during, and after the Brotherhood War, MLB owners argued, "The only possible system which will yield financial success...is that of having employers in entire control of the club, leaving the players in the position of paid employee only."38 The owners warned that the players were not businessmen and could not properly manage the business operations of baseball. During the 1976 lockout, this same attitude existed. One unidentified MLB executive said: "These doggone players have a misguided view of [how the baseball business is run] because they've never lived in the real world."39
Because they were not businessmen, the owners argued, the players were too concerned with their own well being to care about the game and its fans. The owners reasoned that by looking out for their own interests the players actually hurt themselves. One writer maintained that due to the "selfish greed of a small minority of the overpaid 'star' players," 1890 was a "season of financial disaster."40 Similarly, one 1970s owner argued that the players were "alienating" the fans, and because of this "the players-present and future-are certain to be the biggest losers."41
By contrast, the owners pointed to the reserve clause and its benefits to demonstrate how effectively they operated the game. Albert Spalding insisted that the reserve system was a "necessity to guard not only against disreputable and incompetent players but as a matter of protection and justice to those players who combine skill with gentlemenly [sic] conduct on and off the field."42 As owners almost one hundred years later argued, without the reserve clause players would "flit from team to team" with no loyalty to local fans.43
The 1890 Brotherhood War had seemingly cemented the lesson that the players should play baseball and the owners should supervise the game. And the owners ever since had promoted this argument that they knew what was best for the game to defend their management of the industry.
Initially, not every journalist in 1890 agreed that only the owners knew how to manage the game. The Sporting News editor noted, after listening to Spalding's view on the labor situation, "Of all the boobies in the base ball world he is the biggest."44 The Sporting Life editor sympathized with the players' desire to be treated as more than "mere machines" but hesitated to denigrate Spalding as intensely as The Sporting News did.45 Yet, both journals questioned the MLB owners' hold on the game.
Still, even these two staunch proponents of labor reversed their stance after it became apparent the Brotherhood would fail in its enterprise. The Sporting Life editor said," ...the gentlemen who endeavor to run the Players' League and who possibly flattered themselves that in one short year they had mastered not only the art of base ball management but all the labrinthy and intricacies of base ball politics and diplomacy, may to-day have a less exalted opinion of their own abilities."46 The Sporting News editor noted, "[Since] the players having shown their complete inability to manage their affairs we see no way out of the difficulty but a return to the old order of things."47
During the 1890 Brotherhood War, newspapers chose to support either the players or the owners, but after the war all agreed that the owners should manage the game and the players should play the game. Similarly, sports reporters differed on which side was at fault during the Messersmith/McNally hearings, but none questioned the current management-labor system. One Chicago Tribune writer reinforced this system by noting, "As to the laughable notion that the players could get along without the owners, sure they can. About as well as Abbott could have gotten along without Costello."48 Other writers added that the players were too selfish to care about the game. "Why [do] baseball players need to be free to flit from team to team," one Chicago Tribune sportswriter asked. "To make more money? ... Pardon me if I don't enlist in this noble cause."49
On the other hand, some writers noted that the owners shared in the blame for the current labor strife. A New York Times columnist argued that in the Messersmith/McNally hearing the owners had wanted an "impartial arbitrator who would be more impartial on their side."50 The Times editorial page editor compared MLB executives to the "inflexibility of plantation owners on the eve of the Civil War," adding that the owners were "hard-headed businessmen, entitled to exploit their employees no more than other men of commerce."51 These stubborn businessmen, according to one St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist, "listen to nobody but their accountants."52
In both time periods, sportswriters differed on which side had caused the labor dispute. Still, all sportswriters implicitly, if not explicitly, supported the management-labor system.
They're Overpaid to Play a Game. The owners also positioned themselves as essential to the game's operation by reminding the public and press that the players were grown men being paid an exorbitant amount to play a boy's game. One writer noted that the top baseball players such as "Buck" Ewing made $28,000 from 1881 to 1889, while labor leader John Ward made $27,350 during the same period.53 The owners wanted to know how baseball players could complain when they were so well paid for playing a game. Throughout the years, this overpaid player message resonated with fans. Although management caused the 1976 labor stoppage, the fans showed an anti-labor attitude. "Pro athletes make too much money anyway," argued one fan. "You mean to tell me a pitcher deserves more money than a teacher, or a brain surgeon who saves somebody's life," said another. "It's sick."54
But not all newspaper writers in 1890 agreed that baseball was only a game; some saw the Brotherhood War as a struggle between labor and management. The New York World editor explained that people had watched Brotherhood games due to their ideological preference, whereby they "sympathized with the men in their efforts to be freed from an employment which savored [sic] of bondage." Furthermore, the owners' "dictatorial conduct towards its employees" alienated players from their work, resulting in "half-hearted and time serving service."55
Likewise, several writers in 1975-1976 looked past the argument that the players were overpaid and focused on the factors surrounding the labor talks. A Chicago Tribune writer agreed that the players "exacted benefits previously known only to Russian czars" but added, "Owners have been greedy in protecting their monopolies."56 The Tribune editorial page editor noted that even though the players participated in a venture that was only a game, the owners misread the current social climate. "What is happening in professional baseball was bound to happen sooner or later in an age when the free spirit reigns supreme."57
On the other hand, some sportswriters reinforced the concentration on player salaries, with many reminding readers that baseball players received handsome rewards for their job. Some even explored the career alternatives for those whose only skill was playing a game. One Los Angeles Times writer noted, "if baseball cannot survive the almost certain chaotic conditions to follow [the Messersmith-McNally decision], the newly 'freed' stars may also find themselves free to go back to the lube rack."58
Game Will Be Destroyed by Player Demands. In these management-labor arguments, MLB officials often claimed that the players and their demands would destroy the national pastime if unchecked by the power of the owners. During the Messersmith/McNally arbitration hearing, baseball officials forecast doom if anything threatened the reserve rule. National League President Charles S. "Chub" Feeney argued that if teams engaged in competitive bidding for players' services, "We might not have a World Series." American League President Lee MacPhail added, "This decision could have a disastrous effect on baseball."59 The argument that the players' fight for power would hurt the sport was not new. One nineteenth century writer noted that due to the war caused by the players, "Not in the twenty years' history of professional club organizations was there recorded such an exceptional season of financial disaster and general demoralization as characterized the professional season of 1890."60
Throughout the 1890 season, journalists on both sides of the issue argued whether the players had hurt the game. One Chicago Tribune writer reasoned that a few star players had formed the new players' league for their own benefit, which had not only hurt the game but the majority of players.61 On the other hand, The Sporting News, noted, "With all due respect, the Players League is a pretty healthy Yearling."62
The same argument occurred in the 1970s. Some writers agreed with the owners' insistence that free agency would ruin the game, noting that the Messersmith-McNally decision "could demolish the centerpiece of baseball's reserve system."63 One Los Angeles Times sportswriter called the ruling a "death sentence" for professional baseball and "wondered if there would be another World Series."64 On the other hand, some sportswriters argued that even if the reserve clause changed the game it would not "create such dramatic changes as some [owners] suggest."65 One St. Louis Post Dispatch writer chastised the owners for their gloom-- and-doom message, noting that the owners "continue to talk as if they really believe that the major leagues would self destruct should the players be permitted the same privileges as ordinary citizens."66
For nearly all of its 125-year history, Major League Baseball has featured a management-labor dynamic. From 1890 when management won the only challenge to the owner-dominant system until 1976 when the players won free agency rights, MLB owners possessed control over the players and the baseball industry. During most of the industry's existence, industry executives could usually depend on compliant sportswriters to accept and further promote the desirability of this control to devoted fans. One New York Times writer noted that during the 1975-1976 labor dispute MLB officials were "flooding the players, press, and radiotelevision with prose explaining what a blessing it is to be owned by one's employee."67 When the players revolted against this control in 1890 and 1975-1976, the owners expected the same acquiescence and support that sportswriters had generally provided throughout the industry's history. What they found instead was a diversity of opinion and newspaper coverage, some favorable, some not. These episodes illustrate that both the claim that sportswriters are merely cheerleaders and the claim that this label no longer fits are both too simplistic to describe the activities of sports journalists.
Clearly, sports journalism and sports journalists have changed since 1890.(68) Yet, similar factors influenced both sets of sports journalists. For instance, the interests of media owners, the social-cultural environment, changes in the journalism industry, and the media strategies of organizational leaders impacted how an individual reporter might cover a story or comment on an issue. In addition, the competitive dynamic of a labor dispute seemed to initiate the desire to choose sides.69 One factor, however, seemed to ensure mainly favorable coverage for Major League Baseball. Sports journalists who wanted to gain and maintain professional credibility had to do so while sustaining a close relationship with the source of information.70 As one commentator noted, "As long as the distribution of power is narrow and decision processes are closed, journalists will never be free of their dependence on the small group of public relations experts, official spokespersons, and powerful leaders whose self-serving pronouncements have become firmly established as the bulk of the daily news."71 Thus, although some may point to the differences between twentieth- and nineteenth-century sports journalists, both groups had similar influences on how they covered their subjects.72
This analysis is designed not to judge either group of sports journalists but to demonstrate the complexity of the field. Examples of the critical sportswriter can be found regardless of the time period. One historian noted that writers in the 1880s and 1890s "took stands on hot issues like monopolistic baseball [and] players vs. owners."73 A sports columnist in 1975 complained that 80 percent of current baseball stories criticized some facet of the game.74 On the other hand, examples of the compliant sportswriter could be found just as easily. As this study shows, both groups of journalists were represented in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Hastily placing labels on sports journalists as hacks or cheerleaders, or blind defense of sportswriters, trivializes and misrepresents those that cover one of the most widely read sections in the newspaper.
Appendices A and B and Notes follow.
1. Fred Lieb, Baseball As I Have Known It (NY: Ace, 1977), 181
2. Hugh Fullerton, "The Fellows Who Made the Game," Saturday Evening Post, 21 April 1928, 184.
3. Bruce Garrison with Mark Sabljak, Sports Reporting 2d ed. (Iowa State University Press, 1993), 5. See also John Stevens, "The Rise of the Sports Page," Gannett Center Journal 1 (fall 1987): 1-11.
4. Will Grimsley of the Associated Press as quoted in John Consoli, "Have Sportswriters Ended the Era of Heroes?" Editor & Publisher, 5 June 1982, 44.
5. Bill Surface, "The Shame of the Sports Beat," Columbia Journalism Review 10 (1972): 49.
6. Lee Becker, "Community Press," in Communication, Culture, Community, ed. Ed Hollander, Coen van der Linden, and Paul Rutten (Rotterdam: Omslagentwerp, Ineke de Groen, 1995).
7. Michael Novak, "The Game's The Thing: A Defense of Sports As Ritual," Columbia Journalism Review 15 (1976): 38.
8. Howard Cossell with Peter Bonventure, I Never Played the Game (NY: William Morrow, 1985),14.
9. Wick Temple, Associated Press general sports editor, as quoted in Celeste Huenergard, "No More Cheerleading at the Sports Pages," Editor & Publisher, 16 June 1979, 11.
10. David Shaw, "Sports Page: Look, Ma, No Decimal Point," Los Angeles Times, 7 February 1975, sec. III, p. 1.
11. Bruce Garrison and Michael B. Salwen, "Sports Journalists Assess Their Place in the Profession," Newspaper Research Journal 15 (1994): 37-49. Also see a similar study described in Bruce Garrison and Michael B. Salwen, "Newspaper Sports Journalists: A Profile of the 'Profession'," Journal of Sport and Social Issues (1989): 57-68.
12. Garrison, Sports Reporting, xi.
13. Albert Spalding, America's National Game: Historic Facts Concerning The Beginning, Evolution, Development, And Popularity Of Base Ball, With Personal Reminiscences Of Its Vicissitudes, Its Victories, And Its Votaries (NY: American Sports Pub. Co., 1911),169-79.
14. James B. Dworkin, Owners Versus Players: Baseball and Collective Bargaining (MA: Auburn House Pub. Co., 1981), 44-45.
15. In between 1890 and 1953, the players organized the League Protective Players Association in 1900, which failed after two years due to player apathy. From 1912 to 1918, players could join the Baseball Players' Fraternity, but it dissolved due to indifference. The players remained without a union until 1946, when Robert Murphy formed the American Baseball Guild, which failed when the owners met the players' demands. For more detail, see Lee Lowenfish, The Imperfect Diamond: A History Of Baseball's Labor Wars, rev. ed. (NY: Da Capo Press, 1991).
16. For more information on the 1975-1976 labor dispute, see, e.g., John Helyar, Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball (NY: Villard Books, 1994); Kenneth Jennings, Balls and Strikes: The Money Game in Professional Baseball (NY: Preager, 1990); Lowenfish, The Imperfect Diamond; Marvin Miller, A Whole Different Ball Game: The Sport and Business
of Baseball (NJ: Carol Pub. Group, 1991); and Gerald Scully, The Business of Major League Baseball (University of Chicago Press, 1989).
17. Richard Mandell, Sport: A Cultural History (Columbia University Press, 1984), 219; Harold Seymour, Baseball: The Golden Age (Oxford University Press, 1971), 60.
18. Frank Luther Mott, American Journalism: 1690 to 1960 (NY: Macmillan, 1962).
19. Sporting Life, 28 May 1884, Sports Journalism File, National Baseball Hall of Fame Library (hereafter referred to as NBHFL).
20. Sporting Life, 28 May 1884; The Sporting News, 7 February 1887; 26 May 1888, Sports Journalism File, NBHFL.
21. Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age (NY: Hill and Wang, 1982), 122-130.
22. Alfred Henry Spink, "Baseball Troubles," The Sporting News, 10 May 1890, 4.
23. David Quentin Voigt, American Baseball: From Gentlemen's Sport to the Commissioner System (Penn State University Press, 1983), 197.
24. Frank Luther Mott, "Trends in Newspaper Content," The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 219 (January 1942), 61-62.
25. "'Inside' Baseball from an Owner's View-Point," Literary Digest, 8 April 1922, 42.
26. Will Spink, "Display Advertising," The Sporting News, 22 September 1932, 4.
27. William H. Nugent, "The Sports Section," American Mercury 16 (February 1929): 338; American Society of Newspaper Editors, Problems of Journalism: Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Meeting (Washington, DC, 1929), 26.
28. Mott, American Journalism, 712;Susan Greendorfer,"Sport and the Mass Media: General Overview," Arena Review 7 (1983): 3. Newspaper circulation was at 39 million in 1930 to 38 million in 1935 to 41 million in 1940, according to Melvin DeFleur, Theories of Mass Communication 3d ed. (NY: David McKay Co., 1975), 30.
29. Will Spink, "Need of Insignia," The Sporting News, 24 August 1933, 4.
30. Fans had spent a prewar high of $21.5 million on professional baseball in 1939, and by 1948 that spending had risen to $68.1 million. See Memorandum prepared by Charles F. Schwartz, assistant chief of the national income division, Department of Commerce, Office of Business Economics, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on the Study of Monopoly Power, House of Representatives, 82nd Congress, First session, Part 6, Organized Baseball (1951), 960.
31. Stanley Woodward, Sports Page (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1949), 35.
32. Jack Lang, "Baseball Reporting," Total Baseball 3d ed. (NY: HarperPerennial, 1993), 507-512. See also Shaw, "Sports Page," Los Angeles Times, p. 1.
33. In 1950, each team averaged $210,000 from television revenues; in 1971, this average was $1,335,000. In 1975, MLB local TV revenue totaled $31 million. See Ira Horowitz, "Sports Broadcasting," in Government and
the Sports Business, ed. Roger G. Noll (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1974), 287-88.
34. For more on changes in journalism and sports coverage during this era, see Michael Schudson, Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers (NY: Basic Books, 1978); Garrison, Sports Reporting, 10; Shaw, "Sports Page," Los Angeles Times, p. 1.
35. David Voigt, "From Chadwick to the Chipmunks," Journal of American Culture 7 (fall 1984): 34.
36. Garrison, Sports Reporting, 9-10.
37. Francis Richter, "Spalding's Hands in the O'Neill-Nimick Controversy," Sporting Life, 27 December 1890, 3.
38. MLB owners paid Chadwick to be the editor of the industry's official organ, Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide. Henry Chadwick, "Professional Baseball," Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide, 1891, 13.
39. Douglas S. Looney, "O.K., What's the Pitch," Sports Illustrated, 8 March 1976, 46.
40. Henry Chadwick, "The Professional Season of 1890," Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide, 1891.
41. Statement by August A. Busch, Jr., president, St. Louis Cardinals, Players Meeting at Al Lang Field, St. Petersburg, Florida, 24 March 1972, August A. Busch File, NBHFL.
42. Lowenfish, The Imperfect Diamond, 41-43.
43. Looney, "O.K., What's the Pitch," 47.
44. Alfred Henry Spink, "The Labor Situation," The Sporting News, 28 September 1889,4. The editor also boasted, "The Sporting News is the only sporting paper in America not controlled by the League bosses. Quite naturally, then, it is the only one to stand by the players in their fight for right and liberty." "Caught on the Fly," The Sporting News, 6 October 1889,4.
45. Francis Richter, "The Brotherhood's Secession - Its Status and Effects," Sporting Life, 13 November 1889, 4.
46. "PL and NL in Negotiations," Sporting Life, 18 October 1890, 1.
47. "The Reasons For It," The Sporting News, 8 November 1890, 4.
48. Robert Markus, "Start the Season Without the Club Owners?" Chicago Tribune, 7 March 1976, sec. 3, p. 3.
49. Robert Markus, "Baseball Ruling May Mean A Strike," Chicago Tribune, 25 December 1975, sec. 6, p. 1.
50. Red Smith, "Christmas Spirit," New York Times, 24 December 1975, p. 16.
51. John B. Oakes, "Don't Kill the Umpire," New York Times, 25 December 1975, p. 20.
52. Jeff Meyers, "It Helps to be a Cynic to Find Humor in Sports," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 26 February 1976, sec. C, p. 2.
53. "Practical Working of the Reserve Rule," Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide, 1890,18.
54. Comments from bartender Bob Ryan and telephone agent Jack Kubin in Leo Zainea, "Fans Don't Like Baseball Squabble," Chicago Tribune, 17 March 1976, sec. 4, p. 2.
55. "Baseball," New York World, 19 November 1890, p. 8.
56. David London, "Greed of Players, Owners Ruining Box Office,"
Chicago Tribune, 10 February 1976, sec. 4, p. 3.
57. John McCutcheon, "Baseball Faces the Inevitable," Chicago Tribune, 25 December 1975, sec. 3, 2.
58. Jim Murray, "Ho-Ho-Ho! Santa Leaves Baseball Holding Bags," Los Angeles Times, 25 December 1975, sec. III, p.1.
59. "Messersmith and McNally Declared Free Agents," St. Louis PostDispatch, 23 December 1975, sec. C, p. 1.
60. "The Professional Season of 1890," Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide, 1891,15.
61. Henry Chadwick, "Reserve Rule Benefits," Chicago Tribune, 23 March 1890, p. 7.
62. "Caught on The Fly," The Sporting News, 18 October 1890, 4.
63. Charles Maher, "Messersmith Ruling Imperils the Reserve Clause," Los Angeles Times, 24 December 1975, sec. III, p. 1.
64. Murray, "Ho-Ho-Ho! Santa Leaves Baseball Holding Bags."
65. Peter Bonventre, "Off the Reservation," Newsweek, 5 January 1976, 51.
66. Jeff Meyers, "Spring Without Baseball Is ... Urn... Ah... Thinkable," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 25 February 1976, sec. C, p. 2.
67. Red Smith, "Golden Age of Press Agentry," New York Times, 8 March 1976, p. 35.
68. For instance, one study found that the latter twentieth-century sports journalist seemed to have more journalism experience than the 1890 counterpart. Of 106 sports journalists studied, sixty-three had at least one year of nonsports experience, six had six to ten years and nine had eleven or more years. See J. Sean McCleneghan, "Sportswriters Talk About Themselves: An Attitude Study," Journalism Quarterly 67 (spring 1990): 115.
69. Douglas Anderson, "Sports Coverage in Daily Newspapers," Journalism Quarterly 60 (autumn 1983): 498.
70. In most cases, the sources the sports journalists in this study used for their articles and columns came from the baseball establishment. For instance, during the 1975-1976 dispute, union director Marvin Miller and the players' union chief negotiator Dick Moss spoke most often for labor; Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, American League President Lee MacPhail, and the owners' chief negotiator John Gaherin spoke most often for management. Journalists would also quote players and MLB owners and officials from the local team. The author could not find an instance when the journalist quoted a labor expert from outside the baseball industry, such as a college or university labor law professor. The only time that journalists went outside the baseball establishment for a source was when they quoted a judge or judges presiding over MLB legal action. For example, journalists quoted Judge Gerald W. Heaney's decision when the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the owners' appeal of the Messersmith-McNally verdict: "Certainly, the parties are in a better position to negotiate their differences than to have them decided in a series of arbitrations and court decisions." See Murray Chass, "Baseball Owners Lose Again," New York Times, 10 March 1976, p. 29; and "Baseball Owners Lose Messersmith Appeal," Chicago Tribune, 10 March 1976, sec. 6, p. 3.
71. Normand Burgeois, "Sports Journalists and Their Sources of Information: A Conflict of Interests and Its Resolution," Sociology of Sport Journal 12 (1995): 195-203. See also an article by Mark D. Lowes, who wrote that work routines employed in the daily manufacture of sports news-including a reliance on sources such as athletes, coaches, and spokespersons - tend to privilege major commercial sports organizations. In Lowes, "Sports Page: A Case Study in the Manufacture of Sports News for the Daily Press," Sociology of Sport Journal 14 (June 1997): 14359.
72. W. Lance Bennett, News: The Politics of Illusion, 2d ed. (NY: Longman, 1988), xii.
73. Voigt, "From Chadwick to the Chipmunks," 31.
74. Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times, 7 February 1975, as quoted in Voigt, "From Chadwick to the Chipmunks," 36.
By William B. Anderson
William B. Anderson is an assistant professor in the Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Does the Cheerleading Ever Stop? Major League Baseball and Sports Journalism. Contributors: Anderson, William B. - Author. Journal title: Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. Volume: 78. Issue: 2 Publication date: Summer 2001. Page number: 355+. © Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Winter 2007. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.