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Friday, June 20, 2014

New York 3 team attendance 1920-1957 ... and comparison to California.

After the 1912 season two of New York's three baseball teams changed ball parks.  The American League (AL) team moved from Hilltop Park to Polo Grounds IV in Manhattan, home of the New York Giants of the National League (NL).  The NL Brooklyn team moved from Washington Park III to Ebbets Field.  For the 1920 season the AL team, by then known as the Yankees, acquired home run record setter Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox and immediately drew more fans than the Giants, which prompted the Giants to encourage the Yankees to move out.  After losing to the Giants in the 1921 and 1922 World Series, the Yankees built Yankee Stadium in the Bronx in less than a year and moved there in 1923 ... and beat the Giants in the World Series.  The Giants were never dominant again.

Ebbets Field, opening day, April 1913 via Wikimedia Commons
The Yankees led in attendance most seasons.  In 1920 despite winning the NL pennant the Dodgers were third in NY attendance with 808,722.  The Yankees became the first team anywhere to draw over one million: 1,289,422.  The Yanks won 95, two more than the Dodgers, but finished third in the standings.  However, Babe Ruth broke the season home run record he had set the previous year with Boston, improving it from 29 to 54.

In 1930 the Dodgers won 86, lost 68; 1929 70-83.  That improvement caused Dodger attendance to increase from 731,886 to 1,097,329, close to the Yankees, also 86-68, 1,169,230; Giants with one more win at 87-67 were third with 868,714.  Go figure.  The Dodgers were a factor but they would never become the number one draw, except for a few seasons.

The Giants were last in NL attendance in 1956 and 1957, despite having won the World Series in 1954.  Even Willie Mays couldn't save them.  The Dodgers were still drawing a million but both teams needed a boost such as a new ball park.

1920-1957: Yankees led in NY attendance every year except:

Giants: 1925, 1935
Dodgers: 1939,  1941, 1942,  1943, 1945.

In 1939 the Dodgers:
- made Leo Durocher manager
- improved record from 69-80 (.463) 7th to 84-69 (.549) 3rd; then finished 2, then 1 in 1941
- played 7 home night games averaging over 29,000; June 15, 1938 (attendance: 38,748) first night game in Ebbets Field: second consecutive no-hitter by Cincinnati Red Johnny Vander Meer.  The Yankees did not play home night games until 1946.

Attendance per game 1920-1957:

YearYankeesGiantsDodgers
195719,4438,49313,354
195619,3748,17115,761
195519,35210,43213,423
195418,91215,19813,254
195319,97210,53914,916
195221,16412,79113,609
195125,00113,58416,444
195027,03113,27515,204
194929,27815,42320,945
194830,83018,95217,935
194728,29821,06323,173
194629,42215,84322,745
194511,60313,03213,580
194410,1288,9937,869
19438,0306,0538,594
194211,9749,86913,136
194112,3689,78315,379
194013,0139,84012,049
193911,1669,49312,252
193812,29010,9548,961
193712,63512,3586,348
193612,68710,7436,198
19358,8859,4786,111
193411,1009,7455,639
19339,7077,8506,585
193212,4986,2978,741
193111,85010,4129,910
193015,38511,28214,251
192912,46911,2839,505
192813,92411,8998,635
192715,11711,5978,611
192613,7029,2158,563
19258,82610,2508,564
192413,50710,96210,635
192313,25110,6597,239
192213,32611,9726,396
192115,77812,3227,862
192016,74611,62010,368

New York Team Attendance: 1903-2010  Saturday, September 28, 2013

Written March 2011.  Click this link to view the entire document.  Here is a summary:

Attendance will be evaluated per game ...

Following  the 1957 season the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and the Giants moved to San Francisco.

1962-2010 average combined attendance per game NY (Yankees and Mets) v. CA (Dodgers and Giants):

CA 57,952
NY 54,883

YearsYankeesMetsGiantsDodgers
1903-201020,19715,78221,993
1903-195712,56910,1459,135
1947-195623,92113,94316,466
1958-196120,29519,09425,806
1962-201028,75126,13221,83936,113

The numbers speak for themselves.  The Giants fail to lead in any of these eras.  Dodgers win 3 of 5.  Yanks 2 of 5.  The so called glory years 1947-1956 have considerably less attendance for ten years than the 48 years 1962-2010.  This despite the fact that in 7 of those 10 years 1947-1956 both World Series teams were from New York and in the other three one New York team was in the World Series.  1947-1956 Giants were outdrawn:

Yankees  41.7% (23,921 - 13,943) / 23,921
Dodgers 15.3% (16,466 - 13,943) / 16,466

A case could be made that if the Giants had remained in New York and gotten Shea Stadium they would have had the Mets attendance,  4,293 and 16.4% higher than what they drew in San Francisco.  Some may say that NL would have not permitted the Dodgers to move to LA without another NL team on the west coast to make the relatively primitive  commercial air travel at the time more manageable but LA would have gotten a team around that time and New York was becoming a two team town.  Maybe the Chicago Cubs would have gone to San Francisco.  In 1956 and 1957 only the Giants prevented the Cubs from being last in NL attendance.  At least one New York team had to move and it wasn’t going to be the Yankees...

The Dodgers have been by far the most successful of any MLB team after moving.  Since leaving Brooklyn for Los Angeles, the Dodgers have had much better attendance than the Yankees, Giants or Mets as described above.
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NY: Yankees + Mets CA: Dodgers + Giants attendance per season 1958-2010:

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