Thursday, September 16, 2010

The 1886 World Series: The Inter Ocean's Account

Not much to add but some things of interest:

The day seemed a trifle cold for ball playing, and the spectators buttoned up in overcoats, shivered in their seats when time was called...The seats in the grand stand were all occupied and the line of benches to the left and right were nearly filled. The crowd was estimated at 10,000. The grounds were in splendid condition....[In the fifth,] O'Neil took first on balls deliberately pitched by Clarkson...[In the sixth,] O'Neil went to first on balls...
-The Daily Inter Ocean, October 22, 1886

Another game another variety of sources disagreeing on the attendance. It's not all that important but I do find it amusing. The important point is that there was a large crowd at the ballpark for game four.


David Ball said...

I'm kind of surprised by the disparity, actually, because I would have expected the reporters would frequently have gotten the attendance from the manager or club secretary,so that it might well not always have been accurate but would have been more consistent from one paper to another.

There's Albert Spalding's story of Chicago's secretary John Brown telling a reporter during the Players League war year of 1890 that the attendance was "thirty six nineteen" and then explaining to Spalding that he meant 36 people on one side of the stands an 19 on the other, and it wasn't his fault if the reporter put down 3,619. The story was told some twenty years after the fact and is hard to accept as literal truth, but it does suggest that reporters were routinely, if not universally, getting attendance figures from club officials.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

It's a bit odd. They could have gotten numbers from the club secretary, they could have came up with a number among themselves, they could have taken the number from just one of the writers and went with that. But we have a game now, because of this, where we don't know if there was 8k or 10k or 12k. It's a little frustrating. I know that people perceive things differently but we shouldn't have a 4k+ varience on a 10k crowd.

I was at the Cards/Cubs game the other day and predicted the official announced crowd within 500. The actual crowd was easily 10,000 less than the announced crowd but the point is that it's not all that hard to estimate crowd size.

Richard Hershberger said...

I think you overestimate the ease of estimating crowd sizes. In the specific case of modern stadium crowds, we can do it with a bit of practice, even adjusting for no-shows, but we have instant feedback. This helps make the next estimate more accurate. This also is in the specific context of stadium architecture. Try it with political rallies and it is a lot harder, even if you don't have an agenda to make the number high or low.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

I think estimating a crowd at Busch is easier for me because I know exactly how many people it seats and I know what various crowd sizes looks like in the stadium. If I was dealing with a venue that I didn't know as well as I do Busch, I'm sure I'd have more of a problem.

But shouldn't be easier to estimate a smaller crowd? I would think it would be easier to recognize 8k people in a ballpark than it would be 40k. With a smaller crowd there should be a smaller margin of error. You shouldn't have two people looking at a crowd and one saying it's 8k and the other saying it's 12k, especially if the crowd is much closer to 8k (which the crowd at game 4 probably was).

One point that nobody has made is that the 12k number comes from the StL paper. A StL partisan would have a biased reason to inflate an estimate of the crowd and that's probably what happened here.