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BASEBALL'S BACK: TAKING THE PULSE OF THE FANS
Published April 26, 1995
Major League Baseball has returned to the field, and while fan reaction was mixed at last night's Joe Robbie opener, columnists and other baseball observers attempted to predict how the fans will respond over the long-term. VOICES: In DC, Tom Boswell writes, "Forgiveness vs. Tough Love. That's the real Opening Day match-up this year" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/26). In Philadelphia, Frank Dolson writes, "In my heart I want baseball to be important again. The game deserves it, even if the men who brought it to this critical point don't" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/26). USA TODAY's Bryan Burwell writes, "You knew they'd be back, just like I did. Now, Baseball, make it worth their while" (USA TODAY, 4/26). Author Bill James: "In the past, the fans have come back in record numbers when the game comes back. Maybe they will again but I wouldn't want to count too much on how forgiving they'll be" (Bill Knight, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 4/26). Tommy Lasorda, interviewed before last night's game: "Time heals all wounds. But, they should be [upset] because of the fact we did take baseball away from them. But, by the same token, it's the best buy in town" ("ET," 4/25). CNN's Mark Morgan: "Many marketing experts feel baseball has to reach out to the young fans, the ones they seem to be losing to basketball, football and other sports" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 4/25). In Baltimore, Ken Rosenthal agrees: "The question is not whether baseball will recover today, tomorrow or in the weeks that follow. The question is what will become of this sport in five years, in 10 years, in 20, when the erosion of the fan base truly begins to take effect" (Baltimore SUN, 4/26). OPENING NIGHT REVIEWS: The Marlins-Dodgers was a 42,215 sell-out, but many empty seats were visible. Most reports note that fans booed when players from both teams tipped their caps during pre-game introductions. MARKET-BY-MARKET: The Astros will offer a free game against the Phillies on May 12. Columnist Dale Robertson writes, "When you've lost the kind of money [Astros Owner Drayton McLane] has, some $30 million over two seasons, you might as well lose a little more to find out where you really stand" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/26)....In Chicago, Bernie Lincicome calls the "lack of attendance" at the two-day "Forgive Us Series" between the Cubs and the White Sox "a warning" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/26)....A free game between the Blue Jays and the Mets drew 22,533 to the SkyDome (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 4/26)....In Pittsburgh, columnist Bob Smizik writes, "Do these guys deserve a break? Yes, if only for selfish reasons. Baseball is a fragile entity in this town" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 4/26)....In New York, David Letterman previewed this weekend's Mets promotions: "All tickets are $1. It's amazing, they're only $1. Or, they're free if you want to umpire" ("Late Night," CBS, 4/25).