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How air travel opened up the continent for Major League Baseball

Nov 22, 2013, 12:09 PM EDT


A great post from Jack Moore, looking at a couple of older publications — and adding his own insight — into how easier air travel opened up the country for Major League Baseball.

The best takeaway? How anger at the Dodgers and Giants for leaving New York in 1958 is misguided. Loyalty never had anything to do with it. They just did first what other teams, had they acted more quickly and decisively, certainly would have done:

Baseball has always been in the business of making money. Owners and teams were not comfortable to remain in any one city out of the goodness of their hearts. They were never beholden to the fans. The logistics simply weren’t there. And once the logistics were in place, following the post-war airplane boom, it was the bottom line and nothing else that demanded expansion.

Also a great anecdote in there about an early flight involving the Yankees which was nothing short of harrowing. It’s enough to put you in mind of George Costanza’s comments to Keith Hernandez.

  1. natstowngreg - Nov 22, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    The picture harkens back to the days when one could get a meal as part of one’s airplane ticket. Even if you weren’t flying First Class (though clearly, this is a PR picture of First Class flying). Kids, ask your parents about getting meals on plane flights.

    Much of the half century-old furor surrounding the Dodgers’ and Giants’ moves has stemmed, IMHO, from New York City hubris and literary tradition. There was no such furor over teams moving from Boston, Philadelphia and St. Louis. It was about talented New York writers and journalists (and some not so talented), having many media outlets for their angst about losing their favorite teams. Reflecting the self-evident truth (to them) that the Dodgers and Giants were more important than mere teams like the Braves, Browns and Athletics, well, because they were in New York City. Over time, a certain Los Angeles and San Francisco hubris has crept into perceptions about those teams, but it’s just not the same as New York hubris.

    Over 60 years, in pursuit of profit (whatever the feelings of particular areas’ fans), MLB’s moguls managed to put a team in almost every market large enough to support one. (In 2005, Montreal replaced Washington as the market still standing, after the music stopped.) Call it doing the right thing for the wrong reason, if you like.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 22, 2013 at 1:02 PM

      The picture harkens back to the days when one could get a meal as part of one’s airplane ticket. Even if you weren’t flying First Class (though clearly, this is a PR picture of First Class flying). Kids, ask your parents about getting meals on plane flights.

      Know what else came with flying back then, early emphysema. I’d gladly give up a free meal to prevent people from smoking on planes. No idea how y’all handled that.

      • Francisco (FC) - Nov 22, 2013 at 1:48 PM

        We can have both you know. As recently as 2008 I distinctly remember having food in an airplane and no one smoking.

      • Kevin S. - Nov 22, 2013 at 1:57 PM

        What we can’t have is free in-flight meals and federal regulation artificially inflating the cost of airfare. Meals were a way of competition when airlines couldn’t cut their prices any farther despite their marginal profits indicating it was the right move to do so. Personally, I’d rather go with the cheaper flight and no meal, but that’s just me.

      • natstowngreg - Nov 22, 2013 at 3:22 PM

        Thankfully, it’s been so long since you could smoke on a plane, I can’t remember what it was like.

        As for having meals, depends, at least in part, on the flight’s length. My one-hour, holiday-time flights between DC and Upstate New York can do without even the free soft drinks. The ones in the little plastic cups with about two-thirds ice. Cross-country, it gets a little more difficult. Though these days, you can buy food in the airport and take it on board, so it’s not too big a deal. Still, it’s a tiny bit of civilization lost. Inevitable, but a little sad.

        Sorta like how we Nats season ticket holders don’t get paper tickets anymore. We get plastic cards, like Metro SmarTrip cards, except they’re (surprise!) red. [Yes, I did try to get into a game with my Metro card once, and tried to get on Metro with a Nats ticket card. Hey, they’re the same size and type of plastic. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking with it.] In their first season, the cards proved to have advantages over paper tickets, like being able to transfer tickets to others in our group on a Web site.

        But there was just something about holding that little piece of cardboard in your hand, representing admission to a Major League Baseball game. That has been lost. I’m sure other teams, seeing how it worked here, will adopt this system — and will figure out how to do paperless ticketing for non-season ticket seats as well.

    • fanofevilempire - Nov 22, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      good old Eastern Airline and Pan Am, they had some food on plane back then.
      I remember they would give kid’s little replica planes and
      Wings to pin on your shirt, I miss those day’s, now you get chips and a drink when you fly.
      I take my own food anyway, I really miss the toys.

      • Old Gator - Nov 23, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        Me too. I especially miss those little round plastic swastikas from the Crackerjack boxes.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Nov 23, 2013 at 4:12 PM

        And Air Canada would give you a deck of cards, and a cribbage board, and slippers.

    • crackersnap - Nov 22, 2013 at 11:17 PM

      For me, the picture harkens back to the days when travelers dressed up for their shared journey among strangers. Unlike the more modern era where we all dress down as though we are about to do yard work. All that is missing are wooden crates of chickens lashed to the roof of the plane. We used to be such a civilized society…

      • Old Gator - Nov 23, 2013 at 1:36 PM

        Yep, wearing a jacket and tie was the ultimate barometer of a civilized society back in ye good old days. Much more indicative of who and what we were than, say, Appalachian poverty, segregation or the epidemic lynching of southern Blacks. Congratulations on your unerring sense of what’s really important.

        But hey, you can go on overdressing for flights anytime you want. You’ll make a good impression on the much more comfortable folks seated around you.

    • Old Gator - Nov 23, 2013 at 1:42 PM

      I’ve got a coffee table history of Douglas Aircraft with photos of a then-unknown model by the name of Norma Jean Baker showing how to open up the sleeper berths on the newest Douglas airliner, the DC-7. Yes, a more elegant time in the skies – and a far cry from the “no no, tch, tch” signs in the sleeper berths of a Quantas A-380.

      • Old Gator - Nov 23, 2013 at 1:42 PM

        Qantas. Never assume a marsupial knows how to spell.

  2. APBA Guy - Nov 22, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    Personally I prefer bringing my own food on board, as the cost of those old meals was built into the price of a ticket, and the food was too often just horrible.

    For a taste of that old service try riding a non-US carrier overseas. Some of them are just outstanding: food, attractive attendants, modern airplanes (United is still flying 757’s to Hawaii. That’s a crime against nature) bathroom cleaning every hour…Sigh. I don’t miss $ 1000 for r/t DC to Dallas like in the old days though.

    • Old Gator - Nov 23, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      Yes. Tomorrow, I’m flying back to the sunshine from Toronto with a smoked meat sandwich from Caplansky’s. You can keep that good ole reprocessed chicken cutlet swimming in slightly modified tomato ketchup, vulcanized green beans and gummy sliver of cheesecake wannabe.

  3. skipcastaneda - Nov 23, 2013 at 4:44 AM

    cracker snap! Thank you for saying what you said! I always travel in a shirt and tie. My last plane flight a couple of months ago, I was surronded by people in whatever they climbed out of bed with. We live in a world now when wearing jeans and a tennis shirt is considered dressing up.

    • deacon85 - Nov 23, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      I completely agree. Even though air travel nowadays lacks the glamor and style of years past, there’s no reason you can’t dress up for a flight. I wear a suit five days most days, and it makes a difference.

      • Old Gator - Nov 23, 2013 at 1:27 PM

        Yes it does. You’re far less comfortable and relaxed than you could be, your shirt is a wrinkled mess by the time you get where you’re going, and it smells bad.

      • Old Gator - Nov 23, 2013 at 1:44 PM

        PS – I do hope you also remember to wear pants.

      • gloccamorra - Nov 23, 2013 at 3:57 PM

        The pants may have been confiscated by the TSA. Or the jacket, or shoes, or belt. Why dress up when you have to undress to get to the gate?

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Nov 23, 2013 at 4:08 PM

      Breaking news: Fashions change. If you don’t wear knee britches, stockings, a waistcoat and a powdered wig, you really are a slob.

  4. daubs17 - Nov 23, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    a post from calcaterra not calling someone/something racist!?!? What the heck is going on here???

    • Old Gator - Nov 23, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      A post from Old Gator not calling someone/something a moron? We can’ have that.

      You’re a moron.

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