Thorn: On the Polo Grounds: when fans were fans

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on January 18, 2017:

My friend Richard Hershberger called this antique article to my attention the other day, as he does every now and then. (Six months ago he had sent me another such story, which I happily posted here: No one is a better researcher into the early days of the game than Richard, and no one loves a word picture of a day at the ballpark more than he does, unless it is me. Of the story below, published in the Philadelphia Times of July 3, 1887, he writes:

“Take a look at the attached file. It is a word picture of the Polo Grounds from 1887. This is right up your alley, and complements the 1884 piece from the NY Sun via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This time it is from my new best friend, the Philadelphia Times. Nice touches include the description of ticket scalpers and how the Giants were cheerfully breaking both New York City and National League law by selling beer.

“This last is a fascinating aspect of working my way through this period, watching the NL gradually back off its moralizing about both alcohol and Sunday games. I haven’t figured out why; 1887 was a great year for NL finances, so financial necessity isn’t the explanation. Perhaps it was the example provided by the American Association’s continued success. This period saw a convergence of the NL and AA business models, as each picked out features of the other to copy.

“Also, from the Philadelphia Times piece, note the period color in the description of the crowd’s rapt attention on a 4–3 full count.” [Rules that year retired a batter with four strikes and gave him his base after five called balls. — jt]

Read the full article here:

Originally published: January 19, 2017. Last Updated: January 19, 2017.