Dec 21, 2005 IN BASEBALL HISTORY: A’s HOPE LESS IS MORE

DECEMBER 21, 2005 | OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA • The Oakland A’s hope is that it becomes addition by subtraction. ‘If you take away seats, they will come,’ seemed to be the intention when the ball club announced on this date in 2005 that they will no longer sell seats to the upper deck in McAfee Coliseum (now called Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum).

At a time when ballparks like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are squeezing more seats into their venues, the A’s are trying to pretend an upper deck of empty seats doesn’t exist. The move reduced the A’s ballpark’s capacity, at the time, to the lowest in the major leagues.

It was another act in the drama playing out in the East Bay over a new place for the A’s to play. Team president Michael Crowley told reporters back in 2005, “Our goal is to create a more intimate ballpark atmosphere and bring our seating capacity in line to what we have proposed for our new venue.”

While the team seems to annually over-achieve on the field the A’s have struck out on a new ballpark deal. But as of December 2016 the A’s have restructured their leadership with the goal of making it happen this time.

Stay tuned to see if less is more for the Oakland A’s.

Contributing sources:
Comcast SportsNet, “Futuristic, Transforming Stadiums offer Intriguing Solutions For Oakland,” by Andy Dolich, December 19, 2016
San Jose Mercury News, December 16, 2013

DEC 7 IN BASEBALL HISTORY – HOW PEARL HARBOR AFFECTED BASEBALL

DECEMBER 7, 1941 | ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI • The St. Louis Browns was a struggling franchise in the standings and the box office throughout most of the time it shared St. Louis with the Cardinals. The team drew just 193,000 fans in 1940, about 2,500 a game. It was not unusual to have fewer than 1,000 people in the stands. The paid attendance on September 11, 1940 was 472. Needless to say owner Donald Barnes wanted a change of scenery. This is how Pearl Harbor affected baseball — almost.

It had been rumored for years that if the Japanese hadn’t bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on this date in 1941 – which ushered the United States into World War II – the Browns would have moved to Los Angeles more than a decade before the Dodgers did. Some said it was a “done deal.”

Researchers at the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) decided to investigate. What they found out is… maybe.

Read SABR’s Business of Baseball Committee paper “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Coliseum” by Norman Macht for all the details. In a nutshell the committee looked into a Los Angeles Examiner report in 1946 that the deal only needed formal approval from major league baseball at its winter meetings starting December 9, 1941. Pearl Harbor was attacked on the 7th.

One theory for why little was known about the almost move is that after the move fell through the Browns ownership were all hush-hush so the St. Louis faithful wouldn’t be offended.

The Browns ended up moving to Baltimore in 1953 and became, and remain, the Orioles.

Contributing Source:
“A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Coliseum,” by Norman Macht, Outside the Lines, Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), July 20, 2008

 

DEC 6 IN BASEBALL HISTORY – AL now in LA

DECEMBER 6, 1960 | ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI • Cowboy TV star Gene Autry won the approval of major league baseball owners meeting in St. Louis on this date in 1960 to put an American League team in Los Angeles. The team would be called the Angels (today’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim). They would begin play in 1961.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing. Los Angeles Dodgers‘ owner Walter O’Malley, who had just moved the Dodgers to LA from Brooklyn in 1958, had been adamantly opposed to having an American League team in the LA market. According to the Associated Press (AP), O’Malley made a surprise peace proposal to Gene Autry’s group to allow the expansion Angels into his territory, with certain conditions. One of them was where the new team would play.

At the time, even the Dodgers didn’t have a ballpark to call their own. They played in the LA Coliseum while Dodger Stadium was under construction and wouldn’t be ready until 1962.

O’Malley insisted that the Angels play in Wrigley Field (pictured below) – no, not the Wrigley Field in Chicago, the one in Los Angeles. A replica of the Chicago landmark existed in Los Angeles at the time, but had a seating capacity of only about 20,000. It had been home to the Pacific Coast League Angels before major league baseball moved to Los Angeles.

O’Malley also wanted the Angels to become tenants of Dodger Stadium when it was finished. The Angels knew they would probably have to take the Dodgers up on the deal for a couple years, but had plans to build their own ballpark down the road, which they did. Autry moved the team to Anaheim in 1966, and changed the name to the California Angels.

Contributing source:
Associated Press (AP), via Oakland Tribune, December 7, 1960

 

DEC 5 IN BASEBALL HISTORY-INTERLEAGUE PLAY BEGINS

DECEMBER 5, 1996 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK • It became official on this date in 1996. For the first time in the 125-year history of major league baseball, the Cubs will play the White Sox, the Yankees will play the Mets, the Dodgers will play the Angels in regular season games. Eventually all National League teams would play all American League counterparts. Welcome to interleague play.

Interleague play was part of an agreement players unanimously approved to end four years of nasty labor unrest between players and owners that prompted a strike and cost the devotion of millions of fans.

Interleague play started with the 1997 season. Before then the only time a National League team played an American League team was in the World Series.

Some fans feel it should still be that way. But it can’t be denied many teams have seen a boost in attendance. Welcome to interleague play.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCE:
Associated Press (AP) December 6, 1996

DEC 4 IN BASEBALL HISTORY-NO MORE BONUS BABIES

DECEMBER 4, 1964 IN BASEBALL HISTORY | HOUSTON, TEXAS • It was trumpeted as the end of the “bonus baby” – throwing of tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of dollars (a lot of money in those days) at wide-eyed kids expected to become the next Mickey Mantle or Sandy Koufax. Too often these “can’t miss” prospects didn’t pan out. The owners wanted no more bonus babies.

They met in Houston on this date in 1964 to put an end to the chasing of unproven kids by hordes of scouts with wads of cash. Instead, the owners approved an amateur draft. The first one was held in 1965.

Blow are the first ten #1 picks. Some had decent careers. Most were mediocre. Some, well, have you ever head of Steve Chilcott? Chances are “no.” He never made to the big leagues. The second pick that year was Reggie Jackson.

1965 Rick Monday, Kansas City A’s
1966 Steve Chilcott, New York Mets
1967 Ron Blomberg, New York Yankees
1968 Tim Foli, New York Mets
1969 Jeff Burroughs, Washington Senators
1970 Mike Ivie, San Diego Padres
1971 Danny Goodwin, Chicago White Sox
1972 Dave Roberts, San Diego Padres
1973 David Clyde, Texas Rangers
1974 Bill Almon, San Diego Padres

There is still chasing after kids and some significant bonuses because the team that drafts the player retains the rights to signing a him only for a period of time until the next year’s draft. If a prospect is not signed he can re-enter a future draft and be chosen by any team but the one which selected him the previous year, unless the player consents.

Generally, those eligible to be drafted are:
•  Residents of the US or Canada including Puerto Rico and other territories
•  HS grads who have not yet attended college or junior college
•  College players who have completed their junior year
•  Junior college players
•  Players 21-years of age and older

While there are no more bonus babies, “free agency” has driven salaries into another stratosphere.

Sources/more information:
Complete draft information
Amateur draft rules 
United Press International, Houston, Texas, December 5, 1964