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Players for Sale: A Historical Analysis of the Commercialization of Professional Baseball, 1869-2006 By Anna Kathleen Konger.

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Presentation on theme: "Players for Sale: A Historical Analysis of the Commercialization of Professional Baseball, 1869-2006 By Anna Kathleen Konger."— Presentation transcript:

1 Players for Sale: A Historical Analysis of the Commercialization of Professional Baseball, 1869-2006 By Anna Kathleen Konger

2 INTRODUCTION Professional baseball was launched in 1869 when the Cincinnati Red Stockings played their first game. Professional baseball has grown to become one of the most profitable business ventures worldwide. Average salaries of players have increased from $26,281 in 1882 to 1869 Red Stockings Team $2,632,655 in 2005 (in 2005 dollars). © EMMA Online Ltd. »

3 THESIS © Cornell University Factors such as urbanization and the mass media have contributed to changes within professional baseball. “America’s favorite pastime” has shifted from a neighborhood activity to a profit-based bureaucratic industry where rational calculations are made in order to create a winning team. This study examines the causes and subsequent changes that have led to the commercialization of professional baseball.

4 PREVIOUS RESEARCH ON PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL Urban Ethnic Socialization –Riess (1989) –Kahn (2000) Role of Media –Rader (1984) –White (1996) –Zimbalist (1992) Commercialization –Kahn (2000) –Zimbalist (1992) Opening day of the Baseball Hall of Fame June 12, 1939 © 2006

5 URBAN ETHNIC SOCIALIZATION The movement of immigrants in the late 1800’s helped to facilitate large enough audiences to make possible mass spectacles for sporting events. All groups found that sports gave them a strong source of identity with the nation and a hope of social mobility, especially within the first American born generation. The “creator” of baseball, Abner Doubleday, and one of the first homemade baseballs © 2006

6 POST WORLD WAR I President Woodrow Wilson throws out the first pitch on Opening Day, 1916, in Washington, D.C. © 2006 Urban political machines, local business leaders, and organized crime used the growing demand for entertainment to further their own interests. As living standards rose and mass transits made stadiums more accessible, more people could attend sporting events but the barrier between the rich and the poor still remained. Private team ownership was part of a larger capitalist system in which a few received season tickets to luxury boxes or behind home plate while others sat in the bleachers, if they could afford to go at all.

7 ROLE OF MEDIA From 1903-1953, baseball was truly the national pastime. (White 1996) It transformed from a working class, rough, urban sport to a game that embodied America’s urbanizing, commercializing future. The alliance between sports and the media can be traced back to the 19 th century when newspapers discovered they could boost circulation through sports coverage and promotion of sporting events. 1918 Newspaper Headline ©

8 TELEVISION The popularity of the television resulted in the “great sports slump of the 1950’s,” when the ways that Americans spent their spare time shifted from “inner-city, public forms of entertainment to private, home- centered forms of recreation” (Rader 1984). By 1956, 75% of all homes had televisions. Color images, instant replay, etc., enhanced the presentation of the game and both televised sports popularity and television royalties soared. Family watching television in the 1950’s ©

9 COMMERCIALIZATION President of the Chicago White Stockings (now the Cubs) from 1882-1891, Al Spalding, began his career as a pitcher for the White Stockings from 1871-1876. He then went on to found a sporting goods business, (Spalding), before coming back to the team in an executive position. © 2006 Kahn (2000) views sports owners as a small group that bands together and acts as monopolies. There is a progression of ownership from men of great commitment and knowledge, to business tycoons who made their fortunes in trade but then tried their hands in sports ownership, and then finally on to the corporate manager who bought a franchise to publicize their business enterprise.

10 COMMERCIALIZATION Since 1976, franchise values have climbed substantially. Introduction of free agency brought on rapidly escalating salaries of ballplayers, which pushed owners to assertively expand baseball’s money- making potential. New media and cable contracts, new stadiums with luxury boxes, growing attendance, and licensing income from Major League Baseball properties have all been major new revenue contributions during the last decades. 2005 World Series Artifacts ©

11 RATIONALIZATION THEORY Weber (1968)-examines the bureaucratization and rationalization of modern society in Economy and Society. Ritzer (2000)-applies Weber’s theory of rationalization and bureaucratization to The McDonaldization of Society. –“The Western world has become increasingly rational – that is, dominated by efficiency, predictability, calculability, and nonhuman technologies that control people” (Ritzer 2000:22). –Measures of quality and standards have spilled over into other aspects of everyday life, including sports. Detroit Tiger player, Ty Cobb, c. 1910 © 2006

12 EFFICIENCY AND PREDICTABILITY The bureaucracy of professional baseball has a hierarchy of officials that determines the rules and regulations of franchises. This rational structure makes for greater efficiency when trying to accomplish specific ends and helps team owners use the “sport” of baseball to create profit. Tom Yawkey, owner of the Boston Red Sox from 1933-1977 and American League Vice-President from 1956-1973 © 2006 All Franchises are somewhat similar, so that wherever a fan travels to see a game the field, rituals, etc., are similar. Fans know what to expect when going to a baseball game, which may make them feel more comfortable with spending their money - the driving force behind predictability. “Products and services [at the ballpark] will be the same over time and in all locales” (Ritzer 2003:13).

13 CALCULABILITY Calculability is capable of being of determined, limited, or fixed. Baseball franchises earn significant revenue from television contracts and revenues are part of the baseball industry’s calculability. Coca-Cola advertisement featuring Ty Cobb from 1907 © 2006

14 NONHUMAN TECHNOLOGIES The increase in popularity of sports on television left American society highly reliant on this nonhuman technology as broadcasts were of higher quality than in previous years. During “TV time outs” fans watching from home are left to watch commercials while they wait for the game to come back on. ©

15 METHODOLOGY Data was obtained through a historical analysis. Reviewed previous research on the topics of bureaucratization and its effects on professional baseball from 1869 to the present. Analyzed several websites that were dedicated to professional baseball in order to obtain relevant statistical information.

16 FACTS AND FIGURES Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, 1927 © 2006 “A typical Major League ballplayer has an average salary ten times greater than the average working person” ( 2006). By 1994, the comparable salary rates of baseball players today compared with the average worker were closer to fifty times higher than the national average salary.

17 FACTS AND FIGURES Table I: Minimum and Average Salary Wages for Baseball Players, 1882-2005 (in 2005 dollars) YEARPLAYERS MINIMUM SALARY PLAYERS AVERAGE SALARY WORKERS MINIMUM SALARY PLAYERS AVERAGE AS % OF WORKERS AVERAGE 1882N/A26,281N/A 1898N/A48,742N/A 1910N/A51,325N/A 1946N/A115,974N/A 1965N/A 14,040N/A 1985106,479659,41212,37653.28 2005316,0002,632,65510,712245.77

18 FACTS AND FIGURES In addition to players’ contracts, other sources of income have been available, such as endorsement deals and sponsorships. Table II: Famous First Salary Levels in Major League Baseball PLAYERYEARSALARYAMOUNT (IN 2005 $) %OF BABE RUTH’S SALARY Babe Ruth192250,000517,750 Hank Greenberg1947100,000946,4181.83 Nolan Ryan19791,000,0002,831,7195.47 Kirby Puckett19893,000,0004,676,1919.03 Ryne Sandberg19927,100,0009,615,23218.57 Albert Belle199611,000,00013,352,06525.79 Mike Piazza199813,000,00015,064,02229.10 Alex Rodriguez2000 21,000,000 (’01-’04) 25,000,000 (’05-’06) 27,000,000 (’07) 23,321,299 25,000,000 27,000,000 45.04 48.29 52.14

19 FACTS AND FIGURES The calculability that television contracts, advertising, and longer seasons have made have resulted in significant increases in profits for franchises. The Yankees alone bring in $175 million annually from local TV contracts as a result of being in a large viewer market. Smaller market teams may only bring in $1-5 million annually in television revenue. © Yahoo! Inc.

20 FACTS AND FIGURES Table IV: Franchises and the Owners’ Costs of Purchase TEAMOWNERS, BY YEARSALE PRICE (IN 2005 $) New York YankeesColonel Jacob Ruppert and Colonel Tillinghast L’Hommedieu, 1915- 1945 8,474,362 Dan Topping and Del Webb, 1945- 1964 29,413,497 CBS, 1964-197367,598,668 George Steinbrenner, 1973-Present44,153,999 Boston Red SoxHarry Frazee, 1917-19236,780,716 Bob Quinn, 1923-193316,571,086 Thomas Yawkey, 1933-197720,319,461 John Henry and Tom Werner, 2001- Present 715,776,488 Minnesota TwinsClark Griffith, 1919-19552,152,372 Carl Pohlad, 1984-Present59,231,097

21 DISCUSSION 1968 World Series Tickets © 2006 Efficiency of team owners, the predictability of ball parks, the calculability of pre-determined profits from mass media sources, and the spectators increasing reliance on the nonhuman technology of television and internet to get access to sports has made professional baseball the lucrative business that it is today. Players and teams have all become commodities for sale.

22 THANK YOU! © 2006

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