The Baseball Business

Pursuing Pennants and Profits in Baltimore

By James Edward Miller

The Baseball Business

394 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4323-9
    Published: May 1991

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Awards & distinctions

1990 SABR-Macmillan Award for Baseball Research, Society for American Baseball Research

Major league baseball is more than pitching, defense, and three-run homers. It is a big business. In recent years at least as much fan interest has focused on the off-the-field activities of players and owners as on the games themselves. James Miller's The Baseball Business identifies the issues that have come to the fore during the commercialization of baseball since the 1950s:

路the changing relationship between the major and minor leagues;

路the evolution of one club's management from community to single ownership;

路increasingly complex and costly labor relations, especially free agency;

路the peculiar relationship of for-profit sports teams with local governments, especially the construction of public stadiums with tax dollars;

路racial discrimination.

St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck's 1953 decision to move his franchise to Baltimore was one of the first significant responses by major league baseball to the difficulties it faced in the years after World War II, and the move ushered in an era of franchise shifts and expansion. The new Orioles franchise went on to build a highly successful farm system at a time when minor league baseball was undergoing a series of fundamental changes and to caputre the American League pennant four times between 1966 and 1971. In the 1970s the club lost key players as a result of the introduction of "free agency." Later, the Orioles made large and disastrous investments in free agent players in an effort to remain competitive.

The ties between the Orioles and Baltimore's political and business elites have always been close, and the effort to attract and maintain major league baseball has been a critical part of the city's effort to refurbish its image and attract new industries. The nearly twenty-year debate over replacing Memorial Stadium with a more modern facility is a case study in the thorny relationship between sports businesses and state and local governments.

The Baseball Business is a history of the Baltimore franchise, not just the team. While Miller amply recounts the on-the-field exploits and achievements that have made the Orioles one of baseball's premier clubs, his focus is what happened in the farm system and the front office to make those achievements possible. Armed with a rich historical perspective gained from extensive research in Orioles records and the sporting press, Miller provides an invaluable analysis of the issues facing the sport of baseball. The Baseball Business will be essential reading for all fans who want to understand the business of pursuing not only pennants but also profits.

About the Author

James Edward Miller, a prize-winning historian, has been an Orioles fan since the age of eight.
For more information about James Edward Miller, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"Because Miller's research is so thorough and the perspective behind his analysis so fine, what he has written is actually a history of the entire baseball business with Baltimore as a case study. . . . A prodigious achievement."--Sporting News

"In his thoughtful chronicle of baseball's often grudging movement into modern American life, Mr. Miller has provided enthusiasts and critics alike with a solid double to left."--Louis Rukeyser, New York Times Book Review

"A first-rate rundown on how major-league baseball has become a uniquely commercial enterprise as well as a sport. . . . A perceptive, painstakingly documented box score for all seasons, but especially timely in a year when big league baseball and its fans could endure another silent spring, owing to a strike or lockout."--Kirkus Reviews

"The down-and-up fortunes of the Orioles make for a rich story and a profitable read."--Publishers Weekly

"A detailed, thoughtful analysis of the Baltimore Orioles since 1953."--ALA Booklist

"A superb work of baseball history."--Chicago Tribune