With a little
thought I'm sure that all of you are perfectly capable of coming up with a
Name's the Same gambit yourself. In Washington, you have a President named
Johnson and a club owner named Johnston, a coincidence so fraught with
significance that it almost demands that you invite all Johnsons, Johnstons, et
al., to the Opening Game. We are not only going to let them into the park free,
we are going to present each of them a baseball so that he can join the
President in throwing out the first ball.
Some of you smart
alecks who are familiar with the situation in Washington may protest that we
are letting people in free on the only day in the entire season when we figure
to have a sellout. If your mind runs along such choked and dreary channels you
had better either reprogram your entire thinking or go into a less chancy
business—like, say, running for mayor of Chicago on the Republican ticket.
The very fact
that everyone knows you could have sold those seats makes them more valuable
and upgrades the whole promotion.
I cannot stress
this point too strongly: when you give something away, give it away. Freely and
openheartedly. The mistake many so-called promoters make is that they try
giving away only 10% or 20%—or, in some cases I could cite, 3.5%. I want to
warn you right now that if anyone in this class ever runs one of those affairs
in which he splits with a charity, his diploma is automatically revoked. If
you're going to do it, do it.
A good hustler's
thoughts should be long, long thoughts. He is thinking not for the day, but for
the year, the decade. Don't worry about letting people in free. Seats you have
aplenty. Anything that brings people into those seats is going to help you in
the long run. Besides, an act of charity bathes you in the light of
respectability, and respectability is the best blind a hustler can have.
The only element
lacking in our Opening Day promotion for Washington is the tie-in to a
ballplayer. If I were planning this promotion, I'd try very hard to buy Bob
Johnson from Baltimore or Ken Johnson from Milwaukee. To get him, I'd be
perfectly prepared to pay a premium price—mostly because I know I'd have
Along the same
general lines, I have always wanted to find a ballplayer who was born on
Christmas Day, because that would mean he had been cheated—poor chap—out of a
birthday all his life. We would make things up to him—and to all the similarly
afflicted—by holding a birthday party for him on July 4. All other Christmas
babies within sound of our voice would be admitted to the park as our guests—to
receive special solace—upon the display of birth certificates, legitimate or
reasonably well forged. Just think of the Christmas in July fireworks display
we could put on!
denominator in all these promotions, then, is that we are honoring a group of
people who have one common characteristic. The only trouble with this kind of
promotion is that it is necessary to let the people know what's going to happen
in advance. Generally that's a mistake. The big kick is to be surprised. What
we are trying to do is to get the whole city in a frame of mind where they are
asking, "What's that screwball going to do next?"
because he is the most optimistic of animals. Every time he leaves the house,
he is hoping to find that elusive magical something that is going to upgrade
his life. We can't come right out and promise to transform his personality,
since that would be poaching upon territory already staked out by the
deodorant, hair lotion and cigarette cartels, but we should be able to make him
understand that he is going to experience something enjoyable and, if we are
all very lucky, memorable.
The business of
baseball is characterized by two things: first of all, you are dependent to an
extent that will probably surprise you on repeat business. If you break your
attendance figures down over a period of time you will find that on a total
attendance of one million less than 100,000 different people are involved.