New York Team Attendance: 1903-2010

by

Kenneth Matinale

Last update: March 18, 2011

Click data.   It will open a spreadsheet document that contains all the source data plus graphs.  The data was derived from baseball-reference.com.  Attendance will be evaluated per game to allow for different number of home games per season.  In some seasons teams did not play all their scheduled home games.  It is my understanding that this is reflected in baseball-reference.com.  For instance in 1935 the Yankees played only 149 of the 154 scheduled games and only 74 of 77 scheduled home games.  AND Yanks finished second to Detroit, only 3 back.  That's a whole other issue.

The spreadsheet contains multiple tabs, some tabs have only data, some tabs have both data and a graph.

Description of the spreadsheet tabs, which contain annual data:

- individual tabs for each of these teams: Yankees Giants, Dodgers, Mets, Angels (Los Angeles and Anaheim), As (Oakland).   Bold type indicates leadership.

- All the New York teams together.  NY: sum of Yankees and Mets.  CA: sum of Dodgers and Giants.  NY and CA are compared 1962-2010.  Attendance 1903-1958 for Yankees Giants, Dodgers is summed in “3NY” and serves as comparison to CA.  Bold type indicates leadership.

- Yankees v. Mets.  Bold type indicates leadership.  Graph.

- SF v. LA.  Bold type indicates leadership.  Graph.

- NY v. CA.  Bold type indicates leadership.  Graph.

Etc.


Background

New York City MLB teams from 1903 through 2010:

1903-1957:

New York Giants

Brooklyn Dodgers

New York Yankees

1958-1961 (the real glory years):

New York Yankees

1962-2010:

New York Yankees

New York Mets

Following  the 1957 season the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and the Giants moved to San Francisco.

1962-2010 average combined attendance per game NY (Yankees and Mets) v. CA (Dodgers and Giants):

CA 57,952

NY 54,883

Years                Yankees        Mets        Giants                Dodgers

1903-2010        20,197                15,782        21,993

1903-1957        12,569                10,145        9,135

1947-1956        23,921                13,943        16,466

1958-1961        20,295                19,094        25,806

1962-2010        28,751        26,132 21,839        36,113

The numbers speak for themselves.  The Giants fail to lead in any of these eras.  Dodgers win 3 of 5.  Yanks 2 of 5.  The so called glory years 1947-1956 have considerably less attendance for ten years than the 48 years 1962-2010.  This despite the fact that in 7 of those 10 years 1947-1956 both World Series teams were from New York and in the other three one New York team was in the World Series.  1947-1956 Giants were outdrawn:

Yankees  41.7% (23,921 - 13,943) / 23,921

Dodgers 15.3% (16,466 - 13,943) / 16,466

A case could be made that if the Giants had remained in New York and gotten Shea Stadium they would have had the Mets attendance,  4,293 and 16.4% higher than what they drew in San Francisco.  Some may say that NL would have not permitted the Dodgers to move to LA without another NL team on the west coast to make the relatively primitive  commercial air travel at the time more manageable but LA would have gotten a team around that time and New York was becoming a two team town.  Maybe the Chicago Cubs would have gone to San Francisco.  In 1956 and 1957 only the Giants prevented the Cubs from being last in NL attendance.  At least one New York team had to move and it wasn’t going to be the Yankees.


Giants:

In their final two season (1956, 1957) in New York the Giants were last in NL attendance.  In 1958 the SF Giants jumped to 4th and were second to the NL leading LA Dodgers 1960-1963.  However, the Giants fell to last, 12 of 12 teams, 1973-1977.  Playing in San Francisco the only seasons in which the Giants led NL were 2001-2003.

From 1903 through 1924 the Giants led NL in attendance in all but four seasons in which they finished second,  The Giants made a final comeback leading NL 1933-1937.  However, after that the Giants led only once more while in New York: the war year of 1944.

In 1903 the Giants drew 57% of the New York fans attending games.  They hit rock bottom in 1956 with 18.9%; Yanks had 44.7%, Dodgers 36.4%.  See the ALL tab in the spreadsheet.

In 1968 Charlie Finley moved the former Philadelphia As from Kansas City to Oakland, just across the bay from San Francisco.  Giants NL attendance per game and rank:

2010  37,499 5th of 16   (Giants won their ONLY World Series in San Francisco)

1974 6,420 12th of 12

1975 6,456 12th of 12

1968 10,336 7th of 10

1966 20,459 5th of 10

1960 23,316        2nd of 8 (first season in Candlestick Park)

1957 8,493 8th of 8 (final season in New York)

1956 8,171 8th of 8

1954 15,198 2nd of 8 (Giants won their last World Series in New York)

Even in the first season (1968) that the As were in Oakland the Giants barely outdrew them: 10,336 to 10,090.  1972-1976 the As outdrew the Giants, winning three consecutive World Series in 1972-1974.

Average 1968-2010: Giants 22,279    As 18,622.  Giants have drawn more than the As every season since Barry Bonds became a Giant in 1993.  The As led 1988-1992.  The Giants drew well 1958-1967 but the arrival of the As in Oakland really knocked them for a loop.

The Giants might have been better off moving to Minneapolis in 1958.  It was their top minor league location.  In 1961 the Washington Senators moved to Minneapolis and became the Twins.  Washington was last in AL attendance 1955-1960.  As the Twins in 1961-1967 they ranked: 3,2,1,3,1,2,2.  Twins attendance was down for many years but then first again in 1988 after winning the 1987 World Series.  Then down again then up to third in 2010 in their new ball park.

Dodgers:

The Dodgers have been by far the most successful of any MLB team after moving.  Since leaving Brooklyn for Los Angeles, the Dodgers have had much better attendance than the Yankees, Giants or Mets as described above.

In Brooklyn the Dodgers started drawing well much earlier than many think.  Following the Giants leading NL 1933-1937, the Dodgers led NL 1939-1943.  After WWII the Dodgers picked up again leading NL in 1946,1947,1949,1951,1952 and finishing second in 1950, 1953,1955,1956.  In their final season in Brooklyn , 1957, the Dodgers finished 5th of 8 averaging only 13,354, down from their Brooklyn peak of 23,173 in 1947.

In Brooklyn from 1939 through 1952 the Dodgers led NL 10 of those 13 seasons.  That’s 10 of 54 seasons 1903-1957, 18.5%.

In Los Angeles from 1958 through 2010 Dodgers led NL 28 of those 52 seasons, 54%.  In LA the Dodgers led NL 1959-1966, finishing second in 1958 and 1967.

The Dodgers played in a football stadium, the LA Coliseum, 1958-1961 before moving into newly built Dodger Stadium.  The AL put the expansion LA Angels into minor league park Wrigley Field in 1961; Dodger attendance dropped from 29,271 to 23,432, though still leading NL.  In 1962 it went up to 33,195 while the Angels increased from 7,360 to 14,124.  Both teams played in the same ball park 1962-1965.  That park had the Cy Young MLB winner each season from 1962-1966: Dyrsdale, Koufax, Chance, Koufax, Koufax.  In 1966 the Angles LA left never to return.  The Dodgers have ruled LA alone ever since.

Could the Dodgers have remained in New York had the Giants moved to Minneapolis?  Maybe but with the failure to get the land in Brooklyn to build a new park, the Dodgers would probably have had to move to Queens and that was not seen as viable by Dodger owner Walter O’Malley.  After all, the other NL team was the New York Giants but these were the Brooklyn Dodgers, alone in their association with a single New York City borough.  Maybe the Giants could have moved to Queens but not the Dodgers.  A miss is as good as a mile.  Moving to Queens is the same as moving to LA.

Yankees:

The Yankees have done well since acquiring Babe Ruth for the 1920 season.

The Yanks had already started to encroach on their Polo Grounds landlords, the Giants, by being 2nd of 8 AL teams in 1918 and 3rd of 8 in 1919.  With Ruth the Yanks led AL every season except 1925 from 1920 through 1933.  The Yankees moved into Yankee Stadium in 1923.  The Yankees continued to generally dominate AL attendance including first place  runs 1949-1959, 1976-1981, 2003-2010.

From 1903 through 2010 the Yankees led AL 49 of those 107 seasons, 45.8%; 55% of the 90 seasons since 1920 when Ruth arrived.

Mets:

In only their third season, their first in Shea Stadium, the Mets were 2nd of 10 NL teams.  Mets led NL 1969-1972, 1988,2008.  That’s it.  Only six times in 48 seasons, 12.5%.  They ain’t no Dodgers.


The Yankees led AL and (Giants or Dodgers) led NL in the same season:

1920-1924, 1936 Giants

1941-1943, 1946-1947, 1949, 1951-1952 Dodgers.

Yankees and Mets both led in 2008.

***   The End   ***