Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Gate Money Must Do It All

Patrons and admirers of base ball as a sport are watching with interest the struggle against a full field of the new Union association, which, backed at first by a big St. Louis brewing concern, has spread into eight cities, including Philadelphia, and propose to fight its way to recognition.

A Record representative asked a gentleman thoroughly familiar with the course of the various associations, although not connected with any of them, what he thought of the chances of the Lucas combination.

"Well," was the reply, "unless the Union association is stronger than it appears to be I think it will have a hard time too keep afloat. There never has been such a war waged since the game began as that of the league and American association against the new organization. The fight is carried on in a strictly business fashion. Every body of clubs throughout the country that lays claim to any sort of organization has signed the 'national agreement.' The state base ball associations of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, the Northwestern league, the Eastern league, the Oil and Iron league, with others less notable, are all enlisted with the two leading organizations against the Union association. Its clubs will be the Ishmaelites of the craft. Any club playing them is, by the terms of the national agreement, debarred from playing with any club that is party to that agreement. Neither college clubs nor amateur clubs will play them, for if they did they could never play with any other clubs. I don't see how this 'freeze out' is to be presented. Practically, the new association will be confined to the games of its regular schedule. Half of these, or fifty-six, are played at home, and the other fifty-six abroad. The outside games are played under a small guarantee, which barely covers traveling expenses, so that the games on which each club must rely for support are the fifty-six home games. The season is seven months-that's an average of eight games per month. I suppose the salary list of the Keystone club is from $1,400 to $1,600 a month, and other expenses will run the cost of the venture close up to $2,000 a month. The guarantee to visiting clubs, $75, has got to be paid besides. So you see the games of the Keystone club here in Philadelphia must average receipts of $325 per game to bring the club out even at the end of the season, without a dollar of profit. That is, there must be an average attendance of over 1000 for each game. On some few days, like the Fourth of July, there will be large crowds, but I don't see how they are going to keep the average up to such a high figure."

"Amateur clubs might help them out. Games have been announced, you know, between Union association clubs here and elsewhere and amateur clubs."

"Yes, but when the amateurs understand the penalty of playing such a game they'll back out very quickly. I know two that have done so already. One is a college club and another the leading Philadelphia amateur club. The game isn't like it was seven years ago, when the National association was formed. There is nobody to put up money for deficiencies. Every club must pay its way, and generally does so. There is no body of local directors to put their hands in their pockets and pay salaries as there was then. The gate money must do it all. The old National association had plenty of help from lovers of the game, but it failed, because enough games could not be arranged to make the business pay. That's the great trouble with the Union association. If there is going to be a base ball craze this year they will float along all right, but if the public gets more than enough the latest comer will be the first to be neglected.
-Rocky Mountain News, April 7, 1884

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