Much More Than a Game: Players, Owners, and American Baseball since 1921

By Robert F. Burk | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1:
A NEW ERA
1921–1929

In the decade following World War I, the United States entered a newera as a confident, maturing nation. A majority of its citizens now lived in urban areas and served as both producers and purchasers of the bounty of a revolutionary new society of mass consumption. It was in most respects a prosperous society. But it was also one in which wage inequalities and wealth maldistribution were growing. Even the most enlightened companies offered but modest “welfare-capitalism” benefits. Larger and larger firms and combinations dominated the business landscape, and they used their size and trade association networks to control industry decision making, neutralize unionization efforts, and influence politicians and the courts. Their predecessors having struggled through boom-and-bust cycles, labor militancy, and trade wars, the New Era's titans were determined not to permit a return to the old instability or to allow new threats to their dominance to emerge.

Virtually any history textbook offers such a description of the U.S. economy of the 1920s. Every part of it applied equally to professional baseball in the United States. For if the 1920s were a new era in the nation's economic life, the decade was also known, not coincidentally, as the golden age of sports. In the postwar decade, spectator sports became clearly recognizable as major entertainment businesses, and none more so than Organized Baseball. Save for a brief trough in the early 1920s, baseball enjoyed impressive customer growth and rising profits. To be sure not all clubs, whether owing to smaller markets, weaker talent, or both, shared equally in the bounty. At one end the New York Yankees generated $2.6 million in the baseball “bull market” of 1923–30. In contrast, paying a heavy price for handing over Babe Ruth to their Bronx

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Much More Than a Game: Players, Owners, and American Baseball since 1921
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations *
  • Preface vii
  • Part One - The Age of Rickey *
  • Chapter 1 - 1921–1929 3
  • Chapter 2 - 1930–1940 40
  • Chapter 3 - 1941–1949 69
  • Chapter 4 - 1950–1965 108
  • Part Two - The Age of Miller *
  • Chapter 5 - 1966–1972 145
  • Chapter 6 - 1973–1979 183
  • Chapter 7 - 1980–1988 222
  • Chapter 8 - 1989–2000 262
  • Appendix 306
  • Notes 311
  • Bibliographic Essay 347
  • Index 359
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