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August 17, 2006

Best Yankees Fans Ever?

Did you know that the first year where the Yankees ever averaged 25,000+ fans a game, in attendance, was 1946? (They drew 29,422, on average, a game that season.)

Up until 1946, the Yankees only averaged around 12,000 fans per game at Yankee Stadium. As the Yankees started playing home night games in 1946, having lights sure helped getting people to the games.

But, what was going on in Yankeeland during 1952 and 1953?

The Yankees won the World Series for three years in a row (1949-1951) heading into the 1952 season. And, they added # 4 in a row in 1952. But, the Yankees averaged 21,165 fans a game in 1952.

And, in 1953, after winning four rings in a row - and while working on their 5th consecutive ring - the Yankees averaged 20,368 fans per game.

In gets worse in 1963. The Yankees won the World Series in 1961 and 1962. During that 1963 season, the Yankees had a strong team - they went on to win 104 games that season (and the pennant). Yet, during the 1963 season, the Yankees averaged 16,260 fans a game.

Where was everybody?

This season, and the two before it, the Yankees are averaging close to 50,000 fans a game (in attendance).

Does this mean that the Yankees fan base is more zealous these days - than ever before? Or, is it just a matter of New York only having two teams these days as opposed to three?

Posted by Steve Lombardi at August 17, 2006 11:07 AM


I would suspect that it's due to increased awareness because of a more complex media environment: it's easier to watch their games on tv anywhere in the world, always able to be accessed via internet, a more powerful marketing machine, etc.... hence they've become less of a regional team and more of a global team which, of course, brings in more spectators to the stadium...

Posted by: Athos333 [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 17, 2006 12:02 PM

At work... They played only day games back then

Posted by: dave [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 17, 2006 12:20 PM

A Yankees game has become a must see event now. It's become a tourist attraction. It's not just a place for diehards and fathers with their sons. At the last game I was at, I sat next to a family of Texas Rangers fans who came to see the Yanks play the D-Rays. You probably didn't see many non-Yanks fans at the games years ago.

Athos333's point about the regional vs global fan base has a lot to do with it, too. I would guess that most of the fan base from the '20s-'70s was from NYC or nearby suburbs. Today, it's not uncommon for fans to drive/fly from all over the country to see the Yanks.

Also, there's a more diverse fan base now. More groups of women, Japanese fans, Taiwanese fans, Domincans, etc attend the games. You didn't see that in the days of Ruth, Dimaggio, and Mantle.

Posted by: christopher [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 17, 2006 12:40 PM

I wonder what the attendance was on weekends and night games then.

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 17, 2006 01:54 PM

"At work... They played only day games back then"

Partially true. Yankee Stadium hosted its first night game in 1946.

Anyway, don't forget that there were also single-admission double headers to mess up the average attendance numbers.

Posted by: rbs10025 [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 17, 2006 02:24 PM

Good point. In the old days, I heard that DH on Sunday and off day on Monday was the norm.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 17, 2006 02:26 PM

Complex reasons why those legendary 1950's teams drew so poorly. Or was it average for MLB?

What were the Dodgers and Giants attendance same time period?

For the Bosox?

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 17, 2006 02:57 PM

The following page might prove interesting http://ultimateyankees.com/yankeestadiuminfo.html
Scroll about halfway down. You can see that even in '52 and '53, the Yanks were outdrawing other teams.

As an example, correcting for nine home doubleheaders, Yanks averaged 23966 fans per game in 1952. You can check the attendance per individual game at http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/VNYA01952.htm
That's not a huge correction, but there it is.

Something else to account for is that I believe that these days, attendance is counted as all tickets sold for the game, not just "asses in seats". (I think there was a period in the 1980s when the two leagues differed on which counting method they used, with the NL going by bodies and the AL by tickets.) Again, this shouldn't make a big difference in average attendance, but I have been to one game (Mets-Astros 4/27/98, a rainout make-up played on an April Monday afternoon) where the announced "attendance" was 17656 but the numbers of people actually there had to have been under 2000.

Posted by: rbs10025 [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 17, 2006 05:55 PM

1952 was during the Korean War which ended mid-1953. I don't know if that was a factor for not drawing as well as you expected them to. I can't find out if there was a draft which might have lessened the number of available fans in NY

Posted by: RICH [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 17, 2006 07:47 PM