Thursday, September 08, 2005

 
September 8th, 1916

Yankees Play at A's


The A's were a desperately bad team that season, losers of one hundred seventeen games and their attendance reflected that, as only one hundred eighty-four thousand people came out to see them that season. This game, however, reflected a new low as only twenty-three people showed up to the watch the A's triumph 8-2. Twenty-three! The country was smaller then, Philadelphia too, but that's just amazing. A couple of years ago Mike Veeck (son of Bill) ran a promotion where the total attendance for his Minor League team was zero. They closed the gates until the fifth inning and had fans standing on ladders watching from the outfield fence. Every now and then fans of European soccer teams are so unruly--even for soccer--that the team is punished by having to play behind closed doors, no fans allowed. But besides situations like this, in modern times, fans can usually be counted on to show up.

And, truth be told, this is rather amazing. The 1996 Tigers probably weren't as bad as the 1916 A's, but they were a fairly awful squad in their own right, losing one hundred nine games and giving up more than eleven hundred runs. Their biggest star was Cecil Fielder...and they traded him in July to the Yankees. Their "closer" was Gregg Olson who collected just eight saves with an ERA over five. Their shortstop, the late Andujar Cedeno, hit .196. Compounding all that, they played in historic but by that time largely decrepit Tiger Stadium. And of course, if you were going to suffer through Tiger baseball, you might as well stay at home and listen to the best man associated with the Tigers that season, the legendary Ernie Harwell. Despite all that, they still managed to draw one million one hundred sixty eight thousand six hundred and ten people to Tiger Stadium.

Think about that. On any given day in
Detroit, almost fourteen thousand five hundred people decided there would be no better way to spend their afternoon or evening (and their money) then to go to a lousy stadium in a bad neighborhood to watch an awful team. Even if we say a few thousand of those are fans of the other team, it's still an astounding number. I can see why people like me go to these--I might even attend a game between the 1916 A's and 1996 Tigers under the right circumstances--but to imagine that people did this all the time defies description. But they did. The Tigers drew as many people in fewer than two weeks of games than the 1916 A's did in their entire season.

I wish I had a way to wrap this up, something about how this shows just how intertwined the game is our national character or some population data or something. But I don't, I'm genuinely amazed. Every day in
Detroit in 1996 thousands and thousands of people showed up to watch a truly miserable collection of talent in unpleasant surroundings. That's summary enough.





<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Listed on BlogShares