A funky ride through baseball attendance, if ever.
In a recent post, I debunked a published quote by Vida Blue complaining that his 1971 home starts had been juggled so as to coincide with Monday’s Family Night promotion. Now I’m reading Dan Epstein’s joyous Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging ’70s. Touching on Blue’s 1972 contract holdout, Epstein writes that Blue in ’71 had been “drawing thousands of extra fans, at home or on the road, whenever he pitched.”
Although the prior post focused on the Family Night question, I also remarked that “the notion of a pitcher boosting attendance is usually bunk, and there’s little reason to think differently in this case,” adding that “the 3 biggest home crowds came to see Catfish Hunter (twice) and Blue Moon Odom.”
I should have looked more deeply, or else left that question alone. Vida Blue in 1971 averaged much bigger crowds than any other A’s starter, even the reigning ace and 3-time All-Star Hunter, who had a fine year himself (21-11, 2.96).
...So while the vast majority of attendance claims for star pitchers aren’t worth a rain check from a completed game, Vida Blue was definitely a huge draw in 1971 — just as another young Golden State southpaw would become ten years later. And your humble narrator is duly … humbled.
Posted: November 03, 2012 at 07:54 AM | 16 comment(s)
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