It may be that
Grandma, that accommodating old darling of the expedient demise, need no longer
bite the dust in the baseball season. Instead of pleading her funeral in order
to manage an afternoon at the ball park, the office boy in these times is more
likely to offer himself as the sacrificial victim by flashing a union contract
and pointing out the clause involving sick leave. And instead of riding to the
funeral for 5�, as his own Grandpa did when he started the classic deception,
today's mourner drives his own convertible and pays upward of 50� to park it,
for the cost of everything has risen considerably since Grandma was first
obliged to kick the bucket.
If the errant
office boy in question, for instance, was one of the 42,269 enthusiastic fans
who skipped work to cram into the San Francisco Giants' spanking-new
Candlestick Park on Opening Day last week, getting rid of the convertible alone
cost him as much as $2. With all the trimmings, including mustard on his jumbo
hot dog, the price of a ball game at Candlestick today sets a new high for the
national game. Bleacher admission there is 90�, general admission to the
grandstand $1.50, reserved seats $2.50, box seats $3.50 and deluxe box seats
average out to nearly $7 a game. General parking is 75� but it involves a long
hike, and preferred season parking averages out to about $2 a throw.
This is a far cry
from the days before World War I, when a really ardent fan in Brooklyn could
watch the Dodgers play at old Washington Park for 5�—the toll exacted for
sitting on a fire escape on the block of flats just across the street. It is a
far cry, too, from the days before World War II, when a smoothie in Kansas City
could take his girl to lunch at the Plantation Grill, listen to Ted Weems and
his new vocalist Perry Como, drive to Muehlebach Field, park and watch the
Kansas City Blues, all (lunch, Weems, Como, ball game) for less than $5.
interesting fact about the price of a ball game, however, is not that it has
risen so much, but that it has risen so little. "The West Coast," says
the Tigers' Bob Steinhilper, "has it made. That's virgin territory and the
fans there don't know about the old days, but our fans have long memories. You
can't jack up the prices on them. Our expenses have tripled in the last 10
years, but our prices have pretty much held the line." The same is true for
most of the East Coast and Middle West big league cities in a decade during
which the cost of all forms of recreation has risen (according to the U.S.
Consumer Price Index) from 103.4 to 117.3, and the value of the dollar itself
dwindled in buying power from 97.3 to 79.6. You can still sit in the bleachers
in any of the big league ball parks for six bits, and get the best, or nearly
the best, box seat for $3.50. The only drastic new expense comes in the price
of parking, and that is not a hazard exclusive to baseball.
All in all, it
seems that in 1960 Grandma's funeral is still about the best show there is for
Two weeks ago we
congratulated the State of Pennsylvania on the selection of a harness racing
commissioner ( Lawrence Sheppard) who, unlike most political appointees in his
field, is a recognized authority in the sport. Last week New York saw fit to
fire its deputy commissioner, Michael Monz, and this time we are offering no
Mike Monz, 49, is
a tough little man of iron integrity who served under Tom Dewey in the famed
anti-rackets investigations, moved with Dewey to the District Attorney's
office, and was appointed to his harness job in 1954. He is now by all odds the
best-informed and most capable trotting official in the state.
In six years Mike
Monz has earned the respect of horsemen all across the land. If he has made any
enemies, they exist only in the ranks of politicians, whose lighthearted
approach to the serious problem of policing this multimillion-dollar sport he
has refused to tolerate.