Guerrieri: The legacy of baseball concessionaire Harry M. Stevens

From SABR member Vince Guerrieri at Ohio Magazine on June 29, 2018:

Harry M. Stevens attended his first baseball game in Columbus during the late 1880s, a matchup between the hometown team — known variously as the Solons, a nod to Columbus being the seat of Ohio’s lawmakers, or Buckeyes — and one of the nine teams that played in the American Association.

The experience was made all the more confusing by the scorecard he bought to keep track of the action on the field: a meager slip of paper bearing each player’s name. He was sure he could do better, so he left his seat and went to the owner’s office to tell him as much.

Up until that point, Stevens had been an ironworker at a mill in the Trumbull County city of Niles and then a traveling book salesman. The sales job is what brought him to Columbus, where he attended the baseball game that would not only change the trajectory of his career but also reshape the professional game as he branched out beyond scorecards into ballpark concessions.

During his meeting with the Columbus team’s vice president, Ralph Lazarus, a scion of the family that ran the Columbus department store of the same name, Stevens offered to handle making and selling the team’s scorecards and split the profits down the middle. Lazarus made Stevens a counteroffer: He could have the ballpark’s scorecard rights for the entire season for a $500 fee.

Given Stevens’ financial status at the time, the sum might as well have been a million dollars, but he happily accepted the deal. Baseball, and the way generations of fans experience the game, was about to change.


Read the full article here:

Originally published: June 29, 2018. Last Updated: June 29, 2018.