Tag Archives: Minor League Baseball

A Million Fans Can’t Be Wrong

AUGUST 25, 1983 | LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY • A million fans can’t be wrong. The Louisville Redbirds became the first minor league baseball team to draw more than a million fans in a season on this date in 1983. Not long before that, a million was considered good for a major league team.

Louisville, the St. Louis Cardinals’ triple-A team, reached 1,006,103 in attendance with a crowd of more than 31,000. The Redbirds outdrew three major league teams that year – the Cleveland Indians (768,941), Seattle Mariners (813,537) and Minnesota Twins (858,939).

Minor league baseball experienced an attendance renaissance at the end of the 20th Century and beginning of the 21st. According milb.com, the official website of minor league baseball, minor league baseball draws more fans than the NBA or the NFL. By drawing 39.8 million in 2004 it broke the total attendance record of 39.6 million fans set in 1949.  Minor League attendance peaked in 2008 at 43.2 million.

While attendance has dropped in the last decade or so, it remains above 40 million each year.

[Minor league baseball does not include numerous independent leagues around the country that are not associated with major league teams.]

Contributing Sources:
Minor League attendance 2016
Minor League Baseball history
Major League Baseball attendance 

March 20th in baseball history-MINOR UPS & DOWNS

1953 | WASHINGTON, D.C. – There was a time when Major League Baseball (MLB) teams were prevented from broadcasting games within 50 miles of a Minor-League Baseball (MiLB) ball park. The thinking was the major-league broadcasts hurt minor league attendance.

That appeared to be the case in the 1940’s and 1950’s, but in 1949 the U-S Justice Department said the rule violated anti-trust laws. The broadcasts had to be allowed.

The 12th year in a row that minor league affiliated baseball drew over 41-million fans.

As U-S Senator Edwin Johnson put it, “Then the heavens caved in.” Senator Johnson’s reaction may have been a little melodramatic, but on this date in 1953 the Colorado democrat introduced a bill that would leave it up to each individual team whether to allow major league broadcasts in minor league towns. Johnson said the broadcasts, many now television, were destroying minor league baseball in small cities and towns, but is that still the case?

At its zenith in 1949, there were 59 minor leagues and 448 teams. Attendance nationwide was 39.6 million. When Senator Johnson introduced his bill in 1953 the number of leagues had dropped from 59 to 39 and many of them on shaky ground. Johnson’s bill did not pass, and minor league teams continued to shrink in number.

But broadcasting and other factors eventually breathed life into minor league baseball. According to Street & Smith’s SportsBusinessDaily, in 2016, total paid attendance of minor league teams affiliated with major league teams was **41.4 million. That’s down slightly from 2015, but the 9th largest attendance in MiLB history. And the 12th year in a row that minor league affiliated baseball drew over 41-million fans.

Contributing sources:
The Associated Press, Washington, D.C., March 21, 1953
Official site of Minor League Baseball  
MiLB teams

**These numbers do not count independent professional baseball leagues such as The Northern League and The Frontier League.