Neyer: Was Jackie Robinson good for business?

From SABR member Rob Neyer at Baseball Nation on May 6, 2013:

Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson because it was good for business. The Dodgers’ business. Well, also because Rickey believed it was moral. But before Rickey could do anything, he needed the Dodgers’ Board of Directors to sign off on everything. And so the Board did, after Rickey convinced them that featuring a great black player (or players) would be good for business. That featuring a great black player would result in more wins and more fans in Ebbets Field.

And of course that’s exactly what happened.

Oh, except it wasn’t.

One thing nobody ever mentions is the Dodgers’ actual attendance in the late ’40s. Except Craig Wright has, his newsletter (subscription info here). And it turns out that while attendance by African-American fans went way up, that was more than balanced by a decrease in European-American attendance. It seems that a lot of white fans were not won over by Jackie Robinson, even as the Dodgers continued to thrive on the field.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: May 6, 2013. Last Updated: May 6, 2013.