Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More on 1969 Expansion

A quick follow-up to my post on the Expansion Teams of 1969 from earlier today:

I was pleased to see that the illustrious Baseball Think Factory linked to the post this morning. BBTF is a great site with a lot of really interesting baseball articles going up everyday, and it's always an honor to be included. But today was even better, as the conversation over there was very interesting and informative (well, moreso than usual, I mean).

In the comment thread, the conversation quickly turned to how this particular expansion came about, and BBTF user Anthony Giacalone provided this terrific response:
"I wrote this up for my piece on 1968 for this year's THT Annual, but I cut it before the article went to press.
In April [1968], the Lords of the Senior Circuit, in a bit of daze after losing Seattle, agreed to expand the league for the 1969 season but only if the new franchises could be chosen by unanimous consent. They immediately tabbed San Diego’s bid for a team, in no small part because former-Los Angeles Dodgers’ vice-president Buzzie Bavasi headed their organization and had a waiting 50,000-seat stadium. National League owners failed to come to unanimous consent on any of the most logical remaining locations for a franchise – Milwaukee, Dallas-Fort Worth and Buffalo. Houston’s owner Judge Roy Hofheinz refused to grant the league access to his personal fiefdom of Texas and Atlanta’s Bill Bartholomay spitefully vetoed Milwaukee’s bid even though he had absconded from his former-marriage to the city with all the assets. By default almost, National League owners passed over the under-funded Buffalo group, headed by former Cincinnati Reds owner Bill DeWitt, in favor a well-capitalized but disorganized contingent from Montreal. The National League’s decision to maintain their supremacy by securing their dominance in Southern California and “capturing” the Canadian market, to say nothing of the alliances of millions of Mexican nationals and Quebecois, proved too smart by half. The rickety San Diego and Montreal franchises toddled along for the next thirty years, alternating between respectability and bleakness, until the man who headed the twice-neglected Milwaukee contingent saved them (sort of)."
That's only an excerpt of his comment, but it clearly shows you just how intelligent this discussion was. The comments also touched on other candidate cities for the expansion, and this gem for why Buffalo may have been passed over was dug up by user 'vortex of dissipation':
"From the 1970 Sporting News Official Baseball Guide:

"'Threatening weather' was the excuse given for the postponement of a game in the International League July 19 [1969], even though the sun was shining in warm, clear weather. It seems that the Buffalo players had refused to play unless crowd control improved at War Memorial Stadium, scene of an invasion and robbery of the club's locker room by a gang of hoodlums the previous night. The stadium is situated in the midst of a troubled area and fans are reluctant to go there at night. For this reason, Buffalo had transferred most of its home games to Niagara Falls. A gang had forced its way at knifepoint into the clubhouse and stole money, gloves, and cigarette lighters. The chief valuables of the players were not obtainable because, as per custom, these were locked up in drawers before the game. As George Woodson, the Bisons' player prepresentative said, 'Nobody wants to play here.'" "
As I said, the conversation over at Baseball Think Factory is quite good, and, while I can't claim to have any credit in how it formed, I do feel pretty pleased that it was sparked, at least in part, by my post. I encourage you to go over and read the entire BBTF discussion.

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