It may be thatGrandma, that accommodating old darling of the expedient demise, need no longerbite the dust in the baseball season. Instead of pleading her funeral in orderto manage an afternoon at the ball park, the office boy in these times is morelikely to offer himself as the sacrificial victim by flashing a union contractand pointing out the clause involving sick leave. And instead of riding to thefuneral for 5¢, as his own Grandpa did when he started the classic deception,today's mourner drives his own convertible and pays upward of 50¢ to park it,for the cost of everything has risen considerably since Grandma was firstobliged to kick the bucket.
If the errantoffice boy in question, for instance, was one of the 42,269 enthusiastic fanswho skipped work to cram into the San Francisco Giants' spanking-newCandlestick Park on Opening Day last week, getting rid of the convertible alonecost him as much as $2. With all the trimmings, including mustard on his jumbohot dog, the price of a ball game at Candlestick today sets a new high for thenational game. Bleacher admission there is 90¢, general admission to thegrandstand $1.50, reserved seats $2.50, box seats $3.50 and deluxe box seatsaverage out to nearly $7 a game. General parking is 75¢ but it involves a longhike, and preferred season parking averages out to about $2 a throw.
This is a far cryfrom the days before World War I, when a really ardent fan in Brooklyn couldwatch the Dodgers play at old Washington Park for 5¢—the toll exacted forsitting on a fire escape on the block of flats just across the street. It is afar cry, too, from the days before World War II, when a smoothie in Kansas Citycould take his girl to lunch at the Plantation Grill, listen to Ted Weems andhis new vocalist Perry Como, drive to Muehlebach Field, park and watch theKansas City Blues, all (lunch, Weems, Como, ball game) for less than $5.
The reallyinteresting fact about the price of a ball game, however, is not that it hasrisen so much, but that it has risen so little. "The West Coast," saysthe Tigers' Bob Steinhilper, "has it made. That's virgin territory and thefans there don't know about the old days, but our fans have long memories. Youcan't jack up the prices on them. Our expenses have tripled in the last 10years, but our prices have pretty much held the line." The same is true formost of the East Coast and Middle West big league cities in a decade duringwhich the cost of all forms of recreation has risen (according to the U.S.Consumer Price Index) from 103.4 to 117.3, and the value of the dollar itselfdwindled in buying power from 97.3 to 79.6. You can still sit in the bleachersin any of the big league ball parks for six bits, and get the best, or nearlythe best, box seat for $3.50. The only drastic new expense comes in the priceof parking, and that is not a hazard exclusive to baseball.
April 24, 1960
All in all, itseems that in 1960 Grandma's funeral is still about the best show there is forthe money.
Two weeks ago wecongratulated the State of Pennsylvania on the selection of a harness racingcommissioner (Lawrence Sheppard) who, unlike most political appointees in hisfield, is a recognized authority in the sport. Last week New York saw fit tofire its deputy commissioner, Michael Monz, and this time we are offering nocongratulations.
Mike Monz, 49, isa tough little man of iron integrity who served under Tom Dewey in the famedanti-rackets investigations, moved with Dewey to the District Attorney'soffice, and was appointed to his harness job in 1954. He is now by all odds thebest-informed and most capable trotting official in the state.
In six years MikeMonz has earned the respect of horsemen all across the land. If he has made anyenemies, they exist only in the ranks of politicians, whose lightheartedapproach to the serious problem of policing this multimillion-dollar sport hehas refused to tolerate.
Governor NelsonRockefeller's new harness racing commission did little to improve the politicalbreed when it fired Mike Monz.
No matter what you say about it, once you discover it has become shabby, ajacket will look no less shabby the next time you put it on. This came to mindlast week when the TV people saw fit to rebroadcast the golf match between SanSnead and Mason Rudolph, which had already achieved notoriety as a shabby show(SI, April 18). The unctuous statements which accompanied the rebroadcast madeit plain that the entrepreneurs of the show were wittingly capitalizing ontheir shabby notoriety. This made the rebroadcast an even shabbier show.
THEY SAID IT
Henry LeBlanc, president of the Sportsmen's Clubs ofTexas, on the need for safety at sea: "Statistics show that most drowningvictims lack life preservers."
George Barnes, president of the U.S. Lawn TennisAssociation, on an ancient tradition of the game he heads: "The term 'love'confuses people. It tends to put the sport into the wrong category, namely, asissy game."