Blogger Wezen-Ball dug up a goodie, predictions about baseball in the year 2000, courtesy of The Sporting News, circa 1981. There’s a ton of funny stuff in there, but most poignant is the inability to grasp how big the baseball economy would become, especially in regards to player salaries and ticket prices.
This inspired to me to pull out an old story from 1926 that I’ve been sitting on for awhile. No, it hasn’t been tucked away in my files, I’ve literally been sitting on it. We recently had our furniture reupholstered with antique sports clippings.
In a wire story printed in the Chicago Tribune, April of 1926, New York Giants skipper John McGraw took a swing at the prognostication business. Of particular interest to McGraw was the strength of baseball in New York and Gotham’s importance to the rest of the league.
“When interest languishes here, it soon falls off all over the country.”
“In the light of my experience in baseball, I can see only bigger and better things, with new and greater stadia all over the major circuits.” (McGraw said he believed every stadium would eventually seat 100,000 patrons.)
Cut him some slack, TV wasn’t even on the radar yet. (Wait a minute, radar wasn’t really on the radar yet). If his point was baseball was going to become big, big business, that’s a line drive up the middle.
“Some idea of the growth of the game may be found in the fact that in 1890, I could have bought the Pittsbugh Nationals for $35,000. You could not buy the club for any amount now.”
Actually, I believe you could get the pirates for $35,000 again, but there aren’t any takers.
“When I broke into New York twenty-five years ago as manager of the Giants, major league baseball was a losing venture. The clubs at the top usually made a little money, but at least five others always lost. Now it’s a rare thing for a club to finish with a deficit.”
It was nice to see the modern ballclubs return to the grand old tradition of crying poor a few years back.
“Twenty years ago you would have been lucky to draw 300 or 400 at an exhibition game in the south. Now at least four or five thousand fans turn out.”
As a matter of fact, we’ve got a couple permanent teams located in the south now who regularly draw four or five thousand per game.
“Behind all this success you will find New York. We took the lead in raising the standard of the personnel. We also showed the way in providing better accommodations for the spectators, putting up the first steel and concrete stadium in the game.”
Wait a minute, didn’t Pittsburgh put up the first steel and concrete stadium?
And as for McGraw’s predictions regarding the upcoming 1926 season?
“I am more than eager this year to win the National league pennant. On paper we look like the best team. In the American league, I expect the Senators to come through again. I have high regard for Mack’s Athletics, but they do not impress me as being well balanced or as smart a team as the Senators.”
We know now that pennants aren’t won on paper. McGraw’s Giants stumbled through a disappointing 74-77 campaign. The Athletics were smarter than the Senators by two games, and the Cardinals beat the Yankees in the World Series.
Not bad, Mac.