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The Baseball Business: Pursuing Pennants and Profits in Baltimore
     

The Baseball Business: Pursuing Pennants and Profits in Baltimore

by James Edward Miller
 

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Major league baseball is more than pitching, defense, and three-run homers. It is a big business. In recent years at least as much fan interest has focused on the off-the-field activities of players and owners as on the games themselves. James Miller's The Baseball Business identifies the issues that have come to the fore during the commercialization of

Overview

Major league baseball is more than pitching, defense, and three-run homers. It is a big business. In recent years at least as much fan interest has focused on the off-the-field activities of players and owners as on the games themselves. James Miller's The Baseball Business identifies the issues that have come to the fore during the commercialization of baseball since the 1950s:
*the changing relationship between the major and minor leagues;
*the evolution of one club's management from community to single ownership;
*increasingly complex and costly labor relations, especially free agency;
*the peculiar relationship of for-profit sports teams with local governments, especially the construction of public stadiums with tax dollars;
*racial discrimination.

St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck's 1953 decision to move his franchise to Baltimore was one of the first significant responses by major league baseball to the difficulties it faced in the years after World War II, and the move ushered in an era of franchise shifts and expansion. The new Orioles franchise went on to build a highly successful farm system at a time when minor league baseball was undergoing a series of fundamental changes and to caputre the American League pennant four times between 1966 and 1971. In the 1970s the club lost key players as a result of the introduction of "free agency." Later, the Orioles made large and disastrous investments in free agent players in an effort to remain competitive.

The ties between the Orioles and Baltimore's political and business elites have always been close, and the effort to attract and maintain major league baseball has been a critical part of the city's effort to refurbish its image and attract new industries. The nearly twenty-year debate over replacing Memorial Stadium with a more modern facility is a case study in the thorny relationship between sports businesses and state and local governments.

The Baseball Business is a history of the Baltimore franchise, not just the team. While Miller amply recounts the on-the-field exploits and achievements that have made the Orioles one of baseball's premier clubs, his focus is what happened in the farm system and the front office to make those achievements possible. Armed with a rich historical perspective gained from extensive research in Orioles records and the sporting press, Miller provides an invaluable analysis of the issues facing the sport of baseball. The Baseball Business will be essential reading for all fans who want to understand the business of pursuing not only pennants but also profits.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A prodigious achievement.

Sporting News

Mr. Miller has provided enthusiasts and critics alike with a solid double to left.

Louis Rukeyser, New York Times Book Review

A first-rate rundown on how major-league baseball has become a uniquely commercial enterprise as well as a sport.

Kirkus Reviews

The down-and-up fortunes of the Orioles make for a rich story and a profitable read.

Publishers Weekly

A detailed, thoughtful analysis of the Baltimore Orioles since 1953.

ALA Booklist

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The thrust of our national pastime as a business rather than merely a sport has intensified since the end of World War II, particularly during the last two decades. In this instructive study, Miller ( The United States and Italy, 1940-1950 ) looks at the marketing and economics of baseball, focusing on the Orioles of Baltimore. He examines the decline of the team's farm system, caused in part by the spread of television coverage of major league games; by the move of white city-dwellers to the suburbs with the concomitant failure of baseball to attract inner-city blacks to the ballpark; and especially by the increased power of the players as the reserve clause was ended and free agency began. The down-and-up fortunes of the Orioles make for a rich story and a profitable read. Photos. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Miller brings to this work the same careful scholarship he has applied to more traditional historical topics (e.g., his The United States and Italy, 1940-1950 , Univ. of North Carolina Pr., 1986) and produces an engrossing analysis of the effect the changing nature of baseball, the business, has had upon baseball, the game. The entire Baltimore Oriole organization, including the farm system, is examined from the early 1950s to the present. The elements are many, including marketing and television, community management versus autonomous control, labor relations, government relations, and racial issues. This well-documented, well-indexed work provides an excellent view of how baseball, and the Orioles specifically, have both gained and suffered from the changes wrought by the burgeoning profitability of our national pastime. An excellent work for fans and both business and popular culture scholars.-- Robert Aken, Univ. of Kentucky Libs., Lexington
Booknews
Miller focuses on the Baltimore Orioles to identify the issues that have emerged since the 1950s with commercialization of baseball. These include the changing relationship between the major and minor leagues; marketing, through the medium of television in particular; increasingly complex and costly labor relations, especially free agency; and racial discrimination. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807843239
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
05/23/1991
Edition description:
1
Pages:
394
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 9.00(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
A first-rate rundown on how major-league baseball has become a uniquely commercial enterprise as well as a sport. . . . A perceptive, painstakingly documented box score for all seasons, but especially timely in a year when big league baseball and its fans could endure another silent spring, owing to a strike or lockout.--Kirkus Reviews

Miller's book presents new insight into the relocation and operation of an economically marginal franchise and its growth into a corporation that sold for $70 million in 1988. . . . It makes for fascinating and revealing reading.--SABR Review of Books (for scholarly journals)

The down-and-up fortunes of the Orioles make for a rich story and a profitable read.--Publishers Weekly

A superb work of baseball history.--Chicago Tribune

Because Miller's research is so thorough and the perspective behind his analysis so fine, what he has written is actually a history of the entire baseball business with Baltimore as a case study. . . . A prodigious achievement.--Sporting News

Far and away the closest, most knowledgeable, most thoroughly researched piece of work ever done on a particular sports franchise. . . . An unprecedentedly revealing account of the way the Baltimore Orioles--as a franchise, a baseball team, and a community institution--have functioned over their thirty-four-year history.--Charles C. Alexander, Ohio University

In his thoughtful chronicle of baseball's often grudging movement into modern American life, Mr. Miller has provided enthusiasts and critics alike with a solid double to left.--Louis Rukeyser, New York Times Book Review

A detailed, thoughtful analysis of the Baltimore Orioles since 1953.--ALA Booklist

Meet the Author

James Edward Miller, a prize-winning historian, has been an Orioles fan since the age of eight.

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