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Behind big-league baseball’s big moves (1958)

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Behind baseball’s big moves: gate receipts, parking, TV

Big-league baseball is on the move. It’s heading west, following the nation’s growth, reaching out for big new markets. This is the story behind all the recent changes in the major leagues — and why more changes are seen ahead.

Look at the major leagues as they 1958 baseball season opens this week and you see that important changes are taking place. Talk to the men who run baseball and you see why.

This is what they say:

Major-league baseball is growing with the country, moving with the shifting pattern of the nation’s population. That population shift is mainly toward the West. So baseball is moving west. That’s why the major leagues this year, for the first time, reach all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast.

Baseball owners are hunting for bigger stadiums, with more space for car parking, so they can attract bigger crowds. Cost of such space, in crowded cities, has grown almost out of the reach of private capital. That’s one reason why five big-league teams have moved in the last six years. Public aid on stadiums was a lure in every move.

Baseball also is reaching out for big new markets for television broadcasts. Club owners are looking forward to the day of “pay television” when fans, sitting at home, will pay to see games on their TV screens just as they pay to enter a ball park. Owners see these markets in the expanding West.

Market on the move

One baseball executive summed it all up this way:

“Big-league baseball is simply moving with the times. It stood still for 50 years while the country’s population changed and baseball’s market changed. Now we’ve got to shift with our market. After all, we’re in the merchandising business. We’re merchandising baseball.”

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What has happened, as a result of this new thinking, is shown in the maps [below]. In the last six years, the map of baseball has been redrawn.

From 1903 to 1952 there was no change at all in the baseball map. All major-league teams remained closely bunched in the eastern third of the nation.

Then, suddenly, came one change after another. The Boston Braves moved west to Milwaukee in 1953. The St Louis Browns shifted to Baltimore in 1954. The Philadelphia Athletics went west to Kansas City in 1955. And now, this year, comes the big jump to the West — the Giants go from New York to San Francisco and the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.

 

 

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