"70 Nights in a Ball Park"

No, not a SABRite's dream vacation, but the National Association's guide to promoting minor-league teams, published in 1958. Its marketing strategies can be summarized under several themes:

70 Nights also offers a glimpse of minor-league economics circa 1958. At that time 90% of minor-league teams sold advertising on their fences; average revenues from fence advertising ranged from $4,800 in Class D to $19,200 in AAA. Concession revenues rose from 25 cents/game in Class D to 45 cents in AAA. For teams seeking pregame entertainment, Jackie Price, an acrobatic competitor of Al Schacht and Max Patkin, charged $300/game in the PCL, $200 in Class A and $125 in Class D. By comparison, 30 years later "Captain Dynamite" blew himself up for $1,000 in the majors, $600 in the low minors. (Do any readers have more current information on the minors?)

And of course, 70 Nights contains its share of anachronisms. How about ballpark bowling alleys, tiered outfield parking lots for drive-in-style viewing, or rooftop driving ranges? Or a May 1 "I Am An American Night" promotion to counter the Red Menace? (Once "the rallying occasion for the Communists and left wingers," with "parades that featured attacks on government, capitalism, even organized labor," May Day now encourages "a public service institution like baseball where the very symbol of the game is a flag or a pennant" to "demonstrate to your community that you're for better citizenship and a re-dedication of civic spirit.") Many men of the Eisenhower era were apparently surprised to learn that women fans "are genuinely interested, buoyed on by the novelty factor and the chance, at last, to be able to share with their husbands something that once was beyond their comprehension. Astounded-friend hubby may argue, but delightedly, at the sudden knowledge of his lifelong companion."

Copyright © 1996 Doug Pappas. All rights reserved.
Originally published in the Fall 1996 issue of Outside the Lines, the SABR Business of Baseball Committee newsletter.

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