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Wins, Losses, and Empty Seats


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Analyzes how the economic structure and operations side of Major League Baseball during the Depression took a beating but managed to endure, albeit changed by the societal forces of its time.

Table of Contents

List of Tables



Prologue: Clash of Titans

Part 1: The Financial Side of the Game

1. The American Economy and the State of Baseball Profits

2. Why Did Profits Collapse? The Revenue Side

3. Why Did Profits Collapse? Player Salaries and Other Expenses

4. Farm Systems

Conclusion of Economic Side

Part 2: The Game on the Field

5. Competitive Balance

6. Player Movement

Part 3: Using League Rules to Aid in the Recovery

7. Helping the Indigent

8. Manipulating the Schedule to Increase Revenue

Part 4: Innovations to Boost Attendance and Profits

9. Radio and Baseball

10. Baseball Under the Lights

11. Other Innovations

12. How Effective Were the Innovations?

13. The Inept and the Restless: Franchise Relocation

Epilogue: The End of an Era

Appendix 1: Radio and Sunday Ball's Effect on Attendance

Appendix 2: Dramatis Personae

Appendix of Tables


Bibliography Index

About the Author

David George Surdam is an associate professor of economics at the University of Northern Iowa. He is the author of Run to Glory and Profits (Nebraska, 2013) and The Postwar Yankees: Baseball's Golden Age Revisited (Nebraska, 2008).


"With the American economy struggling, major-league baseball attendance falling for the fourth consecutive year and the Los Angeles Dodgers in bankruptcy, David George Surdam's Wins, Losses, and Empty Seats about the game's Depression-era troubles is certainly timely. Mr. Surdam, who teaches economics at the University of Northern Iowa, comes to his task armed with a fan's enthusiasm, an economist's tool kit and a certain dissatisfaction with previous analyses - including my own - of the evolution of the baseball business." - Henry D. Fetter, Wall Street Journal "Surdam's book represents the best and probably the only solid study of major-league baseball's economic situation during the Depression." - Dorothy Seymour Mills, New York Journal of Books

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