• Top Minor League Markets: Toledo’s No. 1 Fan

    SportsBusiness Journal this week unveiled our 2013 ranking of the country’s Top Minor League Markets, with Toledo, Ohio, taking this year’s top slot.

    As SportsBusiness Journal research director David Broughton writes in this week’s issue, No. 1-ranked Toledo has designated a No. 1 fan for his longtime (and very visible) support of the team: actor Jamie Farr, better known as Cpl. Maxwell Klinger on the 1970s TV hit “M*A*S*H.” Klinger was a fictional Toledo native, but Farr was, in fact, born in the city.

    Jamie Farr (left) shows his Mud Hens pride on the license plate of a Jeep made in Toledo specifically for Farr. But his "M*A*S*H" co-star, Harry Morgan, is the only one wearing a a Mud Hens hat in this photo.
    Photo: COURESTY OF THE TOLEDO MUD HENS
    As Broughton notes in his story, the Klinger character began wearing Mud Hens gear on the program, but Farr didn’t hesitate to show off his Toledo ties on the set of the show, either — including on the lot of Twentieth Century Fox, as can be seen in this photo.

    The Jeep was made in Toledo specifically for Farr and delivered to him in California, where the show was filmed. It had to have a catalytic converter installed for the emissions laws in California.

    The picture features Farr with Harry Morgan (Col. Sherman T. Potter on the show). Look closely, and you’ll see that of the two, it’s Morgan who actually is wearing a Toledo Mud Hens hat in this picture; Farr is not. Farr told Broughton that before his character started wearing official Mud Hens apparel on set, he wore the hat the props people said was the closest thing they could find to Toledo’s official hat.

    Ken Levine, one of the original “M*A*S*H” writers and later a radio announcer for several MLB clubs, said the same.

    “Jamie always wore the wrong hat,” Levine told Broughton. “He swore it was a Mud Hens hat, but it was a Texas Rangers hat.”

    No question about the name on that license plate, though.

    Tags: IBL
  • TV Timeout: Spending Spree

    MLB’s season is approaching its home stretch, and no team has been under the spotlight more than the Dodgers. Of the money the team spent on player payroll, GM Ned Colletti said, “We really needed to do what we did in the last 12 months.” Colletti said the mindset of the Dodgers ownership was to “get as good as we can as fast as we can” in order to “bring this fan base back, give ourselves credibility and give the fans something to hang on to while we continue to develop our own” (“The Herd,” ESPN Radio, 8/12).

    HOW NOW BROWNS….: ESPN's Herm Edwards said the lack of "professionalism" by Browns TV analyst Bernie Kosar when criticizing Rams players was a "little bit surprising." Edwards: "Words are powerful and I think you have to be careful … It was a little bit surprising coming out of Bernie's mouth to hear what he was saying" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 8/12). Columnist Kevin Blackistone said this is a "bad hire if in fact this is what Bernie Kosar is going to bring you as an analyst,  and if he's bringing you this as an analyst, he's really not doing anything more than anybody would do at a sports bar” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/12).

    MIAMI VICE: Heat F LeBron James discussed MLB’s PED scandal in MLB involving Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez, noting it "sends a bad message." James: "It’s unfortunate that we have a story like Alex Rodriguez. You never want to have a controversy because it's a direct effect to the kids that are coming after us" ("GMA," ABC, 8/12).

    BUTT OUT: ’13 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner on his embrace with his wife after he won the PGA Championship: “She thought it was pretty funny. She’ll find other things to hold against me other than a pat on the butt” (“Mike & Mike, ESPN Radio, 8/13).

  • Top Minor League Markets: A Look At No. 1 Toledo’s Sports History

    SportsBusiness Journal in this week’s issue spotlights Toledo, Ohio, which ranks No. 1 in our 2013 study of the country’s Top Minor League Markets.

    Armory Park was among the first permanent minor league ballparks.
    All photos: COURTESY OF THE TOLEDO MUD HENS
    As research director David Broughton, who spearheaded the project, noted in his story, Toledo’s present-day sports landscape features the Class AAA Mud Hens and ECHL Walleye. The city’s sports history, however, goes back more than 100 years — to 1883, specifically.

    That’s when the Northwestern League Blue Stockings were formed, the first of about a dozen baseball clubs that would play in the market over the next several years. Fans flocked to the games despite unstable finances by a string of team owners and the lack of a permanent venue for the local team. But in 1897, team owner Charles J. Strobel, an oil magnate and Sandusky, Ohio, native, made a move to reflect what he saw as the market’s potential: He financed the construction of Armory Park, one of the first permanent minor league ballparks in the country.

    Community support for the downtown project was visible even in the weeks before the stadium’s opening. The Toledo Blade newspaper, in an opinion piece, lauded Strobel’s efforts, stating “Strobel is going to an enormous expense in fitting up the grounds, and deserves liberal patronage for his pluck and determination.”

    Once open, Strobel’s 4,000-seat ballpark was frequently bursting at its fortress-like seams. The success gave rise, in 1909, to a new ballpark for the city — one that opened on old fairgrounds property in west Toledo, a 16-minute streetcar ride from the center of the city. Detroit native William Armour had purchased the Toledo team in 1907, and it was Armour and Noah Swayne, chairman of the group that owned the club, who proceeded to privately finance construction of the new facility. The ballpark was built in a mere four months, with construction running 24 hours a day.

    Swayne Field's center-field wall was 505 feet from home plate.
    When it opened, the facility, known as Swayne Field, boasted the largest baseball playing field in the world, with its center-field wall 505 feet from home plate. The venue would remain the home of Toledo baseball for decades.

    According to John R. Husman’s book “Baseball In Toledo,” the 1,000 upper-deck grandstand seats at the new ballpark cost $1 per ticket, there were 1,600 lower grandstand seats at 75 cents and another 3,300 at 50 cents, and 6,000 bleacher spaces at a quarter each.

    Political satirist, journalist and author P.J. O’Rourke grew up about three blocks from the ballpark and attended games with his father.

    “One of my very earliest memories of any kind is that I remember climbing out of my crib to go to my bedroom window to watch the searchlights swaying across the sky at Swayne Field,” O’Rourke said. “It was right after World War II, and I don’t know who they thought was going to bomb the Midwest, but the ballpark had searchlights.”

    O’Rourke said despite the fact that the ballpark had begun to age less than gracefully by the time he attended games — the upper deck and parts of the concourse had been closed due to structural problems — the building was always a source of pride for the city.

    In 1884, Walker joined the Mud Hens and became the first black player in professional baseball.
    In 1953, 344,614 fans poured in to the facility, setting an all-time record for the market. That, however, only served to make 1955 all the more painful. The day after that season ended, officials from the Milwaukee Braves, then Toledo’s parent club, called the Mud Hens’ staff together and unexpectedly announced they were moving the team to Wichita, Kan. The news stunned the town. Days later, Swayne Field was sold to the Kroger Co., which immediately demolished the ballpark and built a supermarket.

    It would take a decade before professional baseball returned to town. Local politician Ned Skeldon successfully persuaded local businesses to help fund a conversion of the former Fort Miami racetrack at the county fairgrounds in suburban Maumee, Ohio, to a ballpark. Lucas County Stadium (later known as Ned Skeldon Stadium) opened in 1965, a Mud Hens baseball team returned, and that franchise is now the longest-tenured team in the market’s history — albeit with its move to the modern-day,
    Stengel managed the Mud Hens from 1926-31.
    downtown Fifth Third Field in 2002.

    Also from the history files: Future Hall of Fame managers Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel both had stints in Toledo (McCarthy from 1908-11; Stengel from 1926-31). And Moses Fleetwood Walker donned a uniform for the Toledo ball club in 1884 to become the first black player in professional baseball, more than 60 years before Jackie Robinson’s MLB debut.

    Tags: ECHL, CHL, Baseball, Finance, IBL
  • TV Timeout: Needle In A Haystack

    The role of PEDs in baseball has remained fresh in the media cycle, thanks in part to former MLBer Jack Clark accusing Angels 1B Albert Pujols of using banned substances. ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, “Baseball players have lost the presumption of innocence.” TBS' John Smoltz said there's "going to be a strong push" by the players, "as there should be, to make the risk/reward not so great" and penalize the players who use PEDs more ("PTI," ESPN, 8/9). ESPN's Pablo Torre, on MLB suspending Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez 211 games: "(MLB Commissioner Bud Selig) is the guy who is trying to single-handedly change his legacy from the guy who is very soft on steroids to the guy who is very hard on steroids and Alex Rodriguez, for better and for worse, has been the poster boy for that effort" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/9).

    SIGN OF THE TIMES: N.Y. Daily News’ Mike Lupica, on the Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel autograph controversy: “Is this Biogenesis or is this a college boy signing some stuff? … I want to see the NCAA take the most exciting player in the sport out of play this season because of rules that just do not fit the modern culture of sports." Lupica added, "If I’m going to keep one guy in college sports, Johnny Manziel or Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, I'll go with Manziel.” The Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan said, “I love college sports, I’ve been around college sports as a fan my whole life but it’s like defending your relationship with a hooker. … It’s a business” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 8/11).

    HOMECOMING: ESPN President John Skipper on the status of the Keith Olbermann program: “So far it’s going great. There’s always some scary moments as you sort of think about getting a show up and launched this quickly but we’ve done this a lot. We‘ve got some excellent producers on this show. Keith is up for it. It’s been astonishing to sort of watch the rehearsals and see what he can do in a room with a pen and piece of paper in an hour” (“Reliable Sources,” CNN, 8/11).

    FAMILY TIES: Denver Post’s Woody Paige, on Lakers Exec VP/Business Operations Jeanie Buss saying that the "Laker way" isn't the same since the passing of her father, Owner Jerry Buss: "It seemed to me … her statements were a putdown of her brother (Lakers Exec VP/Player Personnel Jim Buss) who's running the franchise. She probably should be running it. But I do think if Dr. Buss were still alive and healthy that he would have probably prevented what occurred from occurring." ESPN's J.A. Adande said, "It's healthy that Jeanie Buss acknowledges that things are different" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/9). ESPN’s Colin Cowherd said that Dr. Jerry Buss “had vision and you can’t will vision to your kids. It’s not hereditary.” When Buss passed away the Lakers lost “his vision” and that he was the guy that “understood branding and image” (ESPN.com, 8/9).

    TEX THAT TO THE BANK: Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira, who rang the opening bell at the NYSE this morning, discussed managing his money and portfolio. Teixeira said, "It's very important for players to take responsibility for their careers. I think a lot of us sign a contract at 18 or 21 years old, we let our agents run everything, we let other people just kind of tell us what to do and I've just taken it upon myself to follow smart people." Teixeira noted he is friends with 76ers co-Owner David Blitzer and they "love talking sports and getting together," along with The Goldman Sachs Group President COO Gary Cohn and Marquis Jet Founder Kenny Dichter ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 8/12).

    EXTRA POINT ATTEMPT: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bryan Burwell, on the Manning brothers new DirecTV commercial in which they rap: "How about that Manning family? Already the first family of NFL quarterbacks. P&E Diddy – that's Peyton and Eli to you squares – are now on the cutting edge of the New Orleans rap movement too" (“The Sports Reporters, ESPN, 8/11).

  • Top Minor League Markets: Rankings through the years

    SportsBusiness Journal this week spotlights Toledo, Ohio, for taking the No. 1 slot in our 2013 study of the country’s Top Minor League Markets.

    This is the fifth time SBJ has produced a Top Minor League Markets ranking, and the markets we’ve researched have seen their ranking fortunes rise and fall through the history of our survey. That includes Toledo, which was No. 9 in our first survey in 2005, fell to No. 77 in our 2007 study, but rose all the way back up to No. 1 this year. Following is a look at the top 10 from each year’s survey and where those respective markets fall in the 2013 ranking.

    2013 2011
    Rank
    Market
    Rank Market (2013 rank)
    1 Toledo, Ohio  1 Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa. (3)
    2
    Rochester, N.Y.  2 San Bernardino County, Calif. (4)
    3
    Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa.  3 Providence-Pawtucket, R.I. (12)
    4
    San Bernardino County, Calif.  4 Reading, Pa. (34)
    5
    Springfield, Mass.  5 Portland, Maine (13)
    6
    Syracuse, N.Y.  6 Syracuse, N.Y. (6)
    7
    Fort Wayne, Ind.  7 Charleston, S.C. (11)
    8
    Des Moines, Iowa  8 Modesto, Calif. (14)
    9
    Spokane, Wash.  9 Idaho Falls, Idaho (19)
    10
    Sioux Falls, S.D. 10 Spokane, Wash. (9)

    2009
    2007
    Rank
    Market (2013 rank)
    Rank Market (2013 rank)
    1
    Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa. (3)  1 Fort Wayne, Ind. (7)
    2
    Fort Wayne, Ind. (7)  2 Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa. (3)
    3
    Tulsa, Okla. (NA)  3 Oklahoma City (NA)
    4
    Billings, Mont. (129)  4 Rochester, N.Y. (2)
    5
    Spokane, Wash. (9)  5 Reading, Pa. (34)
    6
    Peoria, Ill. (55)  6 Quad Cities, Ill.-Iowa (48)
    7
    San Bernardino County, Calif. (4)  7 Boise, Idaho (116)
    8
    Bossier City-Shreveport, La. (228)  8 Tulsa, Okla. (NA)
    9
    Idaho Falls, Idaho (19)  9 Sioux Falls, S.D. (10)
    10 Rochester, N.Y. (2) 10 Stockton, Calif. (186)

    2005
     
    Rank
    Market (2013 rank)
    1
    Rochester, N.Y. (2) 
    2
    Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (159) 
    3
    Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa. (3) 
    4
    Providence-Pawtucket, R.I. (12) 
    5
    San Bernardino County, Calif. (4) 
    6
    Oklahoma City (NA) 
    7
    Fort Wayne, Ind. (7) 
    8
    Dayton, Ohio (32) 
    9
    Toledo, Ohio (1) 
    10
    Fresno, Calif. (222) 

    NA: Not applicable. Market is no longer eligible for ranking as a minor league market because it now hosts a major league club: Oklahoma City with the NBA Thunder, and Tulsa with the WNBA Shock.

    Tags: IBL, NBA, WNBA
  • USGA Awards Fox Rights To U.S. Open, Women's Open, Senior Open

    Fox Sports, never much of a player in the golf space, has won the rights to the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and the U.S. Senior Open in a stunning deal that takes those majors away from NBC, Golf Channel and ESPN.

    The U.S. Golf Association awarded Fox a 12-year multimedia contract that begins in 2015 and runs through 2026. NBC has broadcast the U.S. Open since 1995, meaning the 2014 broadcast — its final one — will be the 20th edition of the U.S. Open that the network has televised.

    Fox will pick up rights the following year with Fox’s broadcast network and the soon-to-launch Fox Sports 1 serving as the principal domestic partner. Financial terms were not available.

    The first two rounds of U.S. Open will include two hours on the broadcast network and rest of the day on Fox Sports 1.

    USGA President Glen Nager acknowledged that the new arrangement with Fox is “a game-changer for our organization and for the game of golf.” Added Fox Sports Co-President and COO Eric Shanks: “We’re looking forward to Fox Sports becoming home to the pre-eminent golf championship in the world.”

    In addition to the three majors, Fox also will broadcast the USGA’s national amateur championships, which had been a staple of Golf Channel’s coverage.

    The deal represents a significant boost in coverage hours for the USGA. Fox’s deal will increase the total hours of coverage from 90 to 146 overall, and the number of hours devoted to the 10 amateur events jumps from 30 to 76.

    Tags: USGA, Fox, U.S. Open
  • Texas A&M’s revenue not a one-Manziel show

    Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    A Wall Street Journal story this week made the claim that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has “helped generate tens of millions of dollars for his team, athletic department, university and conference — without himself receiving any of those proceeds.”

    That’s not an unusual claim to hear these days, what with all the discussion about the O’Bannon lawsuit, the NCAA’s amateurism rules, and reports that Manziel demanded payments from a broker in exchange for autographing hundreds of photos, helmets and other memorabilia.

    But do the facts support the belief?

    The WSJ story doesn’t try to build a case for the claim, other than referring to a Joyce Julius study showing that Manziel generated $37 million in media exposure for the school between Nov. 10, 2012, and Jan. 6, 2013.

    But media exposure is not revenue (though it can certainly help increase it), and, anyway, most people aren’t thinking of media exposure when they think of the money being generated by college athletes. They think of ticket sales, jersey sales, alumni donations and maybe dollars distributed to schools and conferences in media rights deals.

    None of which can easily be tied to any individual player. The fact is, Texas A&M sold out its season tickets the year before Manziel turned into a star. The school’s licensing was up 22 percent this year, but it was up 23 percent last year, before Manziel’s No. 2 jerseys started flying off the rack. Donations had already been on the rise since the school announced its move to the SEC.

    When it comes to Texas A&M, you can probably make a stronger case that changing conferences provided more of a financial windfall than the exploits of any one player.

    Maybe that’s why the WSJ included the word “helped” in that sentence, as in, Manziel “helped” generate tens of millions of dollars. Because, in reality, the difference that any one college player can make in the overall intercollegiate sports landscape is a small one.

    That’s not to downplay the contributions of Manziel, or any other player, or to argue that they shouldn’t benefit from whatever contribution they do make. If the sales of Manziel’s jersey generated a few hundred thousand dollars, there’s a good case to be made that he should share in the proceeds.

    But with all the heat being generated in the arguments about college sports, let’s not lose sight of the fact that, like every other college athlete, Manziel didn’t do it all himself, either on or off the field.

    Tags: Colleges, People and Pop Culture
  • TV Timeout: Battle Of The Big Apple

    The NBA released its schedule for the '13-14 season and Avery Johnson discussed the games in the New York area over Super Bowl weekend. Super Bowl XLVIII is set for Feb. 2, with the Nets hosting the Thunder and the Knicks welcoming the Heat into MSG on back-to-back days leading up to the NFL's season finale. Johnson: "It's great for the NBA because even though the Super Bowl is going to be drawing millions and millions of fans from around the world, the NBA is still going to be front-and-center." Johnson added the Nets and Knicks are "going to draw a lot of fans and a lot of VIP clientele from all around the sports (world), and actors and actresses. So it's going to be great for the NBA to be on center stage prior to Super Bowl Sunday" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/6).

    THE PLAYBILL
    : A musical titled "The Lockout," loosely based on the '11 NBA labor stoppage, is set to open in Chicago later this month. Newsday's Bob Glauber said, "If that makes it to Broadway I will join the Naked Cowboy in my underwear in Times Square" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/6).

    MODERN MEDIA'S ROLE IN PEDs: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick said that one “can’t underestimate the level of the effect of the communications revolution” on the Alex Rodriguez suspension. Crasnick noted MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner made a point of “all the leaks that came out and how it undermined the process” of Rodriguez’s appeal. Crasnick: “I think that’s another thing that we have to take a look at because, obviously, these things are being done with a purpose and just the reporting on this and the way things came out, obviously, somebody had an agenda that they wanted to fulfill by getting this stuff out there" (ESPN.com, 8/6). 

    LATINO DILEMMA? Crasnick said the Biogenesis suspensions could be a “watershed event” in that there were “so many Latin players yesterday who got busted and I think that’s a real unexplored facet of this that we really need to pay attention to.” Crasnick said that a “big issue that needs to be addressed” with the Biogenesis suspensions is the “availability and the legality of some of these substances in Latin countries and the culture and maybe, I don’t want to say desperation, but the sense for players to want to play in the Major Leagues and maybe the availability and the willingness to use this stuff” (ESPN.com, 8/6).

  • TV Timeout: Unwanted Distractions

    With nearly half of the 30 MLB teams still in contention for a spot in this year's postseason, NBC News correspondent Ron Mott summed the short-term damage of the Biogenesis story, as it takes the average sports fan's attention away from the action on the diamond. Mott said the "media spectacle A-Rod's contentious return sparked" last night in Chicago "threatens to overshadow the game during its most important stretch, the pennant chase" ("Today," NBC, 8/6).

    Meanwhile, MLB Network’s Tom Verducci echoed yesterday's comments from Buster Olney, saying, "I spoke with a veteran player, very active in the union, a few days ago and he said he fully expects this issue to come up within the union in the offseason to talk about stricter penalties" (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 8/5). ESPN's Curt Schilling: "I think we're going to see a 'Two strikes and you're out' policy at some point in the near future" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/5).

    TRUTH VS. PERCEPTION: Longtime Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said with John Henry buying the newspaper, the "perception is always going to be there" that the Globe is providing skewed coverage of the Red Sox, and its "sports department is on the defensive forever and ever now" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/5).

    ORANGE YOU GLAD? ESPN's Michael Wilbon on the Dolphins' new uniforms: "Where's the orange? It's almost gone. The green is different. This was a major thing to me. They have been the same uniforms essentially for 40-some years" ("PTI," ESPN, 8/5).

    Tags: MLB, Miami Dolphins
  • TV Timeout: MLB To Increase PED Punishments For '14?

    An interesting tidbit came out of today's ad nauseum discussions about the MLB player suspensions and the fallout of the Biogenesis scandal. ESPN’s Buster Olney said he "talked with an influential player" in the big leagues that told him "he would be shocked if the drug testing rules are not strengthened during the offseason" in light of the suspensions of Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and others (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 8/5).

    Meanwhile, the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said of Bud Selig's stance on the anticipated punishment of Alex Rodriguez: "This is a vindictive thing on the part of the commissioner, who is trying to protect himself and clean up his own legacy because he's responsible for what happened in the nineties." Ryan said Selig is "going to make A-Rod the example" (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 8/4).

    NOT FIT FOR A KING? ESPN’s Howard Bryant on the idea that Heat F LeBron James could be the next president of the NBPA: "He did not even for one day attend college, and yet thinks he should represent his fellow players in negotiating a collective bargaining agreement. This has disaster written all over it. Baseball historically has had the best union ... because it never allows an active player to run it." Bryant added, "It’s admirable that James may be thinking beyond himself. But wanting the job is one thing, being over-matched at the bargaining table is something else" (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 8/4).

    Tags: MLB, NBA
Return to top
Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug