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The long, long season could be too long
William Leggett
August 15, 1966
Tired ballplayers are grumbling about a schedule that is forcing them to play under seemingly absurd conditions, while even in the game's normally shortsighted higher councils there is evidence of unrest
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August 15, 1966

The Long, Long Season Could Be Too Long

Tired ballplayers are grumbling about a schedule that is forcing them to play under seemingly absurd conditions, while even in the game's normally shortsighted higher councils there is evidence of unrest

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There are some people, however, who believe that what baseball schedules need is not merely a cutback in the number of games or a change in the opening and closing dates of a season. The time has come, they say, for interleague play, and they point to attendance figures of mid-season exhibition games that are played in many cities for charity. This year, for example, the White Sox played the Cubs before 47,000 in Chicago, the Mets played the Yankees before 56,000 in New York; the Pirates drew 34,000 in Cleveland and the Orioles 21,000 in Philadelphia. People in Cleveland, say the interleague proponents, should be allowed to see Willie Mays in something besides a TV commercial, and all Philadelphia would go wild over Brooks Robinson—doesn't everyone? Further, why let all those natural built-in rivalries (Mets-Yanks, Dodgers-Angels, Cubs-White Sox, Phillies-Orioles, Braves-Red Sox) go to waste?

An interleague schedule, extending from mid-June to mid-July, was drawn up by the American League in 1963 and offered to the National for consideration. Now Joe Cronin, the American League president, is trying again to push for interleague play but, as he said the other day, "the National League has not evinced much interest in it." Granted, the American League is far behind the National in attendance, and this hurts its argument ("We'd rather see Houston or the Mets," says the National League, "than bring Kansas City or Washington into town"). It is obvious that if Dodger fans went out to see the Senators it would be more than a minor miracle. Yet the prospect of the Orioles or Twins playing in San Francisco is a compensation, to say the least.

There is no doubt that the public would like to see interleague play in some form or other and, although consideration for its fans has never influenced baseball as much as one might suppose, the game is in no position to leave potential gold mines lying untapped forever. It is time that baseball got out its shovel and began to dig—and there is no better place to start than the interleague schedule.

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