Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Some 1876 Gate Receipt Information

Philadelphia, it is claimed by friends of the Athletics, is a good base-ball town.  The St. Louis Reds don't think so.  They gave the Fillies $171 as their share of the gate receipts in one game here, while the Ponies only received $46 as their share at Philadelphia on the Fourth of July.  The Reds had their revenge, however, defeating their opponents 11 to 0.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 8, 1876

So it's not a lot of information about gate receipts but at least it's something.    


David Ball said...

I believe you've written, haven't you, that part of the Reds' problem in 1875 was not that they wouldn't go on the road to NA cities, but that the other teams refused to schedule them? Granted, 1876 was a bad year at the gate for the Athletics, but it wasn't that bad. One interpretation is that once they got very far away from St. Louis the Red Stockings could not draw at all, and that's why nobody wanted to play them.

Assuming the usual one-third share for the visitors and 25 cent general admission, with an extra charge for grandstand seating, then the attendance at the Philadelphia game would have been something below 550 -- perhaps as low as 400 or 420, depending on how much money was brought in for the grandstand seats.

If you assume 25 cent attendance

Jeffrey Kittel said...

The Reds, themselves, with the help of the Stl Globe-Democrat pushed the idea that the Reds had trouble scheduling Eastern games in 1875. I think that's a more viable explanation of what happened than the usual explanation that the Reds were a fly-by-night organization that joined the NA to leach off the Eastern clubs when they came to StL to play the Brown Stockings. Certainly there's some truth in all of this but the situation is substantially more complicated then has usually been stated. The idea that the Reds couldn't get the Eastern clubs to schedule them is one part of that.

Your idea that the Reds were a poor draw on the road is probably correct at least in the context of what the major Eastern clubs would expect. One would think, given the history between the two clubs, that the Reds might have drawn a decent crowd in Chicago but in four games in 1875 they averaged about 400 people a game against the White Stockings. Heck, they couldn't even draw a decent crowd at home in 1875. Bad year all around.

But I think this plays into the idea that the Eastern clubs wouldn't schedule them. Why would they? They weren't a good club, their best pitcher, catcher and third baseman had jumped the club and they weren't going to draw a crowd. Why bother bringing them to town? Boston could probably draw a better crowd playing a local podunk club than they could bringing in what they probably regarded as a podunk club from StL.

What the Reds and the Globe presented as an injustice was really just a reasonable business practice on the part of the Eastern clubs. It was the market that decided the fate of the Reds in 1875 rather than a conspiracy amongst the major clubs to deny them a place at the table. The Reds just couldn't compete at that level.