If you build it…
JULY 20, 1858
– The stars aligned, to a degree, on this date in baseball history. It doesn’t seem like much today, but it was monumental 150 years ago. A crowd of, according to Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball, “no fewer than 1,500” paying spectators came out to Fashion Race Course on
Long Island to watch a pseudo all-star baseball game. The best players of
New York City took on the best
Brooklyn had to offer.
New York won 22-18, and promoters saw dollar signs.
The main reason admission was charged for that July 1858 game was to defray the cost of converting a field into a baseball diamond – there weren’t too many around back then. The gate receipts added up to over $700 dollars – a big chunk of change before the Civil War. The event showed that if you put teams together with good players, fans will pay money to watch, and there will be more money to buy better players. Is this a great country or what!
It had a ripple effect. As Leonard Koppett wrote, “…those who would travel far and then pay 50 cents to watch a game would undoubtedly pay a penny or two to read about one.” Newspapers soon found another way to attract readers; baseball scores, and eventually box scores, which would change every day.
Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball,
2004, by Leonard Koppett, Carrol & Graf Publishers, New York
Bill Grimes, Publisher