This Day in Baseball and Rangers History for February 8

* 15 days until the Feb 23, 2024, spring training season opener with KC
* 49 days until the Mar 28, 2024, regular season opener against the Cubs

Today there are again no birthdays, or historic Rangers-specific events or signings that occurred on Feb 8. There are a couple of curious ticketing and ticket-price events in the early history of ML baseball that are connected to Feb 8-9. So today is a shorter post -- the first reserved stadium seating, the first attempt to fix league-wide ticket pricing, a side note on the many early names of the Dodgers, and a couple of other baseball ticketing, attendance and stadium stories, including the original Yankee Stadium and Globe Life Field.

February 8-9, 1895 / 1916
The First Reserved Stadium Seating
The First Attempt to Fix Higher Stadium Seating Prices
And Other Stadium, Ticketing and Attendance Stories

On Feb 9, 1895, NYG owner Andrew Freedman announced the first sale of reserved grandstand seating to attract more businessmen. The idea caught on, and the period of specialized stadium seats for baseball games began, with higher ticket prices.

On Feb 8, 1916, the NL owners turned down the request of Charles Ebbets, the owner of the Brooklyn Robins, for the NL to set a 2000-seat limit on 25¢ seating in NL stadiums. Ebbets wanted to generate more team income across the NL for the stability of the league. At the time, the Boston Braves had 10,000 25¢ seats, the St. Louis Cardinals had 9000, the Philadelphia Phillies had 6500, and the Cincinnati Reds had 4000.

A quick aside on the early Dodgers team names. Brooklyn had been the center of the baseball world during the 1855 - 1870's heyday of amateur and semi-pro teams. The Atlantics (named after the Atlantic Avenue location of their ballpark -- you know, the cheap yellow property in the game of Monopoly) was the undisputed best baseball team of the period. But there were a number of traditional Brooklyn team names from that period typically recycled by many short-lived amateur/semi-pro teams. The official name of the NL Brooklyn club was simply the Brooklyn Base Ball Club, and until the early 1930's, the jerseys simply read, "Brooklyn". Both the press and the team, on stadium leaflets and programs, used a variety of unofficial nicknames that were either old Brooklyn baseball team names or colorful new names: (1) the "Grays" -- the earliest team nickname, based on the color of their uniform and socks, generally used later only when playing against a team identified by a different color; (2) the "Bridegrooms" or simply the "Grooms" -- a traditional Brooklyn baseball name; (3) "Hanlon’s Superbas" or simply the "Superbas" -- Ned Hanlon was the Manager of the team in the late 1890's - 1900's, and the "Supurbas" was the name of an extremely popular 1880's - 1890's vaudeville acrobatics troupe (think Cirque du Soleil), as well as the derivative 1898 hit Broadway musical of the same name based on the troupe; (4) the "Trolley Dodgers" or simply the "Dodgers"-- a traditional name for Brooklynites in general, as well as several baseball teams, ever since the mid-19th century advent of horse-drawn trolleys in Brooklyn; (5) the "Robins" -- a traditional Brooklyn baseball name and the most common formal name for the team during the pre-1930 period; (6) the "Brooks" -- obviously short for "Brooklynites"; and (7) the "Bums", generally when the team lost -- Brooklyn teams were the first baseball teams to be depreciated with that now time-honored baseball name in the press. It was popular in the NYC sports press in the 1890's - 1920's to refer to the Brooklyn team as well as the fledgling NYY team by 2-3 different names in the same article or game review, for color. The "Dodgers" did not become the single official name of the Brooklyn team (even though it was printed on WS programs in 1916), until 1932-33, when the name first appeared on the team's home and road jerseys.

The advent of memorable baseball stadiums and premium seating really began in NYC, when the NYY's original $2.4MM Yankee Stadium opened on Apr 18, 1923. At the time of its construction, it was a unique sports facility, even though it was built in a period when university stadiums were going up across the country and the LA Colosseum was being built to attract the Olympics. Over its half-century life (1923-73 -- the thorough rebuild in 1974-75 kept only the shell), the original Yankee Stadium became the most famous sports venue in the US, and drew visitors from around the country and the world, simply to attend a game there. It was the first 3-tiered stadium, with a seating capacity of over 60,000 and 19 luxury-boxes. Contrary to popular myth, the construction was paid for entirely by NYY owners Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghast Huston with personal funds set aside prior to Babe Ruth ever appearing as a NYY, and without any public funding or municipal concessions whatsoever. But Babe Ruth was central to the "House that Ruth Built". Planning for the stadium began in 1920 immediately after the NYY acquired Ruth. The owners undertook construction at considerable financial risk and on questionable speculation at the time. In 1920, baseball teams typically played in 30,000-seat stadiums. Moreover, baseball's popularity had taken a significant hit in the 1919 Black Sox scandal, which had also created organizational turmoil within the MLs, that threatened to tear the leagues apart. When asked by the NYC press during construction, how the NYY could possibly justify a ballpark with 60,000 seats, Huston and Ruppert simply answered, "Babe Ruth". Annual attendance was typically in excess of 1 million through 1930, and in the boom period after WWII, attendance was well over 2 million from 1946-50, and over 1.5 million throughout the 1950's. For Ruppert, Yankee Stadium was the crowning jewel for his "prestige" baseball team.

The opening of Yankee Stadium also brought to prominence a different sports ticketing industry, or at least the arrests for undertaking it. Opening day attendance at Yankee Stadium was 60,000 by official audit, although Ruppert announced it at over 74,000 on opening day, and most baseball historians estimate the SRO crowd in the stadium at more than 70,000. The NY Times reported that 2 individuals were arrested for "ticket scalping" at the game -- one was selling $1.10 grandstand seats for $1.25, and another for $1.50.

To the present day, the Rangers $1.2B, multi-level, 40,518-seat, retractable-roof, climate-controlled Globe Life Field, is considered the most advanced baseball ballpark in the US. As LSBers know all too well, Globe Life Field has the unique distinction of opening for baseball on July 24, 2020, during the COVID-19 shortened season and restrictions, with no attendance -- no fans at all, and its entire inaugural home-game season was played during 2020 without fans. Globe Life Field also has the distinction of being the only neutral site ever used by MLB for a WS. MLB (in conjunction with Texas officials) allowed approximately 28% capacity for the NLCS and WS that were played exclusively at Globe Life Field in 2020.

February 8 (BR Bukkpen)
February 9 (BR Bukkpen)
James Terry, Long Before the Dodgers: Baseball in Brooklyn, 1845-1884 (2002), p 129
Brooklyn Dodgers (Wikipedia)
Yankee Stadium (1923) (Wikipedia)
New York Yankees Attendance Data (BA)
Leigh Montville, The Big Bam: the Life and Times of Babe Ruth (2006), pp. 172-75
Texas Rangers: Franchise Attendance, Stadiums and More (BR)
TR Sullivan, Globe Life Field to host NLDS, NLCS, WS (