28 July 2007

The Players' League

The wide range of connections between baseball and American history should be evident to fan and non-fan alike.

I am happy to report that my old friend Ethan Lewis (definitely in the “fan” category) just had an article published in the journal of the Society for American Baseball Research, on the rise and fall of the Players’ League and its founder, Al Johnson. It’s well-written and engaging, and includes a number of fun historical items such as this one... Lewis quotes Albert Spalding, the owner of the Chicago White Stockings, on the inflated game attendance numbers that often wound up being published and promoted:

I recall being present one day at Chicago when the attendance was particularly light. At the close of the contest I was talking to [club] Secretary Brown, when a reporter came up, asking: "What's the attendance?" Without a moment's hesitation the official replied "Twenty-four eighteen." As the scribe passed out of hearing, I inquired, "Brown, how do you reconcile your conscience to such a statement?" "Why," he answered, "Don't you see? There were twenty-four on one side and eighteen on the other. If he reports twenty-four hundred and eighteen, that's a matter for his conscience, not mine. [Lewis’ citation.]

No comment from here on whether attendance figures are still subject to such misrepresentation; today’s misrepresentations are likely left to those who make a living counting TV viewers!

You can read Ethan's article here.


At 12:32 AM, Anonymous Phila said...

Well said.


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