Imagine being in attendance for the final game the Giants ever played at the Polo Grounds before moving west to San Francisco.
It's September 29, 1957 and you're sitting in the bleachers. You see Willie Mays take his final at-bat at the ballpark where he made the most famous play of his career—and the most famous catch in World Series history, just three seasons earlier.
In the end, the Giants lose their final game in New York 9-1.
The price of admission to this historic game: 75 cents for a bleacher ticket. Adjusted for inflation, that would be about $6.23 today.
Nearly 54 years after that final game at the Polo Grounds, the Giants are enjoying the title of world champions for the first time in San Francisco, after defeating the Texas Rangers in the 106th fall classic last year.
But the success of the ball-club has only sped up the already rapid movement of baseball in San Francisco, as well as in many other cities around the country, away from affordability for middle class Americans.
For a standing-room only ticket to the next Giants home game at AT&T Park, you'd have to shell out $20. At least you got a seat in the bleachers for the equivalent of about $6 at the Polo Grounds.
At the ballpark by the bay, you have to pay $20 just to stand for three hours and take in the action. A seat in the bleachers? Try $35.
For a better view of the players and the finer nuances of the game, you'd have to pay $60 to sit in the Lower Box section.
What happened to the days when a man working a blue-collar job could take his son out to the game, buy him a hot dog and teach him about the American pastime?
It appears to be fading fast.
San Francisco isn't the only place this is happening. Just two years ago, when the new Yankee Stadium opened up with great expectations, many seats behind the plate were empty due to prohibitively high ticket prices.
With this proliferation of new stadiums, exploding popularity of certain teams like the Giants and an economic downturn of historic proportions in this country, the average baseball fan is being squeezed out of the market.
No longer can a kid from the sandlot save up his allowance or lunch money so that he can take in a ballgame and see his heroes on the diamond.
No, that kid will basically be outbid for a ticket, especially if he's a Giants fan. That's because the Giants have implemented what they call "market pricing."
The higher the demand for tickets on a given day, the higher their prices will be. And with a world championship team taking the field each day or night, that means higher demand for tickets than ever before.
So while corporate bigwigs, lawyers, doctors and other high-earning professionals take off work early to head to the ballpark, the kid from the sandlot will have to imagine that he's there. Perhaps he'll stay on his little league field, pretending he's at AT&T Park playing the game himself—because his imagination is the closest he'll get to the big league action.
Major League Baseball should take a hard look at what's happening to the accessibility of the game. Baseball has always been heralded as the sport for the "everyman."
That's increasingly becoming a fond memory.
Something needs to be done to return the game to its roots of inclusion for fans of all economic means.
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