SBD/19/Leagues Governing Bodies

IS MLB FAILING TO CASH IN ON PERCEIVED BOON SEASON?

          So far this season, "it's hard to see how" the chase
     for MLB's single-season HR record "has given baseball a big
     bang," according to USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand in a Sports
     cover story.  While MLB attendance is up 10% overall, it is
     up "only" 1% excluding the two expansion clubs.  Hiestand
     adds that attendance "might not be up at all" without the
     Beanie Baby giveaways.  In addition, MLB's national ratings
     are "virtually unchanged" from '97.  But Logo Athletic VP
     Eddie White says that Logo's MLB sales are up 12% and adds,
     "This may be the first year since the 1994 strike that we
     see an increase in (baseball sales)."  In Logo clothing
     identified with specific players, Ken Griffey Jr. "accounts
     for half of all sales," with Mark McGwire second at 21% and
     Sammy Sosa in a single-digit eighth place.  Pro Player says
     that Griffey has been that company's top-seller for three
     years.  This season, Griffey products have produced retail
     sales of "about" $500,000, with McGwire second at $400,000. 
     But Griffey products last year generated sales of $750,000
     (USA TODAY, 8/19).  In Chicago, Bernie Lincicome writes that
     MLB "is blessed" to have the HR record chase.  Lincicome:
     "In a baseball season without compelling pennant races, or
     any pennant races at all to speak of, there is a daily
     reason to check in on the game" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/19).

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