Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Once More Into the Breach

with 3 comments


I don’t know.

Let me see if I can be clearer.

In 1945, attendance at major league baseball games was a working class to lower middle class activity.

You could get tickets for cheap, and you could get them on the day of the game just by walking up to the ticket booth.

Sometime between then and now, attendance at major league baseball games became an upper middle to upper class activity.


The vast majority of upper middle class and upper class people would not have gone near a profressional baseball game under any circumstances in 1945.

Why do they go now?

Why is going to a major league baseball game now a “prestige” activity, when it was decidedly declasse only 60 years ago?

And, while we’re at it–what does this mean for the future?

Does the working class entertainment of one era always automatically become the upper middle and upper class entertainment of another? 


Not much.

A busy day.

Written by janeh

May 16th, 2012 at 8:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses to 'Once More Into the Breach'

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  1. I think Robert has the right idea. You’ve got a form of entertainment that makes lots of money appealing to rich people. Maybe they always liked baseball, but didn’t want to watch anything so unfashionable. Maybe interest in baseball spread like any fad or fashion does – I don’t have a lot of information about the history of entertainment, but I don’t see why those things can’t go both ways. Fashionistas, as they’re called now, might get inspiration from very expensive and high-class fashion shows, which are also well-known for getting inspiration from the street, particularly the poor or exotic – starving artists, natives in traditional costumes etc.

    Once the fashion had swung towards baseball, I can’t imagine a better way to increase prices and therefore prestige by restricting the number of teams and players and seats.

    Someone must have written a history of baseball and society.


    16 May 12 at 12:47 pm

  2. Hmmm. Don’t know the social history of baseball, Cheryl. Football worked the other way–for a long time, something first tier schools did, and their alumni took seriously. It doesn’t become a mass interest with serious professionals until (I believe) the Fifties.

    I think “major league” is pretty much inherently limited–and acordingly, the number of people who can watch such a game in person.
    Clothes. We can all be dressed in clean, pressed clothes that fit with no patches or frayed cuffs–but we CAN’T all be dressed in designer gowns and tailor-made suits, because even if we all went back to bespoke clothing, only a limited number of only a certain number of tailors and dressmakers would “count.” We could all be educated to a given standard–but we couldn’t all be “first tier” or “Ivy League” which is why I’m trying to sort out what could be done in tremendous quantities–books, music sports–from what is inherently limited–Broadway plays and major league sports.

    Also I hear in the back of my mind Thomas Edison saying “I’m going to make electricity so cheap that only the rich can afford candles.” (Yes, I know it’s ungrammatical, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got the quote right.) If you think about it, it’s true–and not just about electric lights and parafin. Once every member of the middle class had custom-tailored suits and shoes made for their individual feet. Once every book was made to order. They were actually still being bound to order as a matter of course as late as the start of the 19th Century. When was the last time someone measured your feet and made a pair of boots to your specifications? About the last time the bookstore asked you how you wanted your book bound, is my guess.

    You just can’t get good cheap help these days. I for one am grateful.


    16 May 12 at 3:29 pm

  3. I think the main point of difference between the “good old days” and now is that what were once mere sports (or boutique enterprises with small, select clientele) are now big business with all the positives and negatives that entails. Television is probably the catalyst that helped shape the modern professional sports, After all, it’s TV money that mainly funds the sporting franchises. (Clubs is such a passé term.)

    Once upon a time, only Russian nobility could afford to buy Fabergé’s masterpieces, and his production was probably pretty much geared to the demands of his noble clientele. Word of mouth was probably the only advertising he either wanted or needed. Now any common or garden billionaire competes in the marketplace for the crass diamond-encrusted specialty bling produced by a positive swarm of jewellers around the world. The brand names most sought after tend to be at the whims of the fashionistae, but it’s the Jones’s who create the demand as the rest of us struggle to “keep up”.


    16 May 12 at 7:48 pm

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