Harper's Weekly
"Baseball's Contribution to the Economy"
May 3, 1890

. . . In concluding, it might not be amiss to note the tremendous strides professional baseball has taken during the last fifteen years, until it has become an established business all over the United States. There are at this time about one hundred professional clubs banded together under the National Agreement. These one hundred clubs give employment to about fifteen hundred players, whose average salary is perhaps $1000 a season, making a total amount paid in salaries $1,500,000. Besides the National Agreement clubs there are the eight Brotherhood clubs, embracing about one hundred and twenty players, whose salaries will aggregate $250,000, swelling the grand total to 1620 players and $1,750,000 in salaries.

These clubs during the season will travel about 450,000 miles by rail. Each club will carry from twelve to sixteen men in their journeying around, which means railroad tickets representing 6,300,000 miles. At an average of 2 1/2 cents a mile, the cost of travel alone, not including sleeping-car accommodation, will be found to amount to something like $157,5oo -- quite a neat drop in the earnings of the American railroads.

There is another class of business which profits from this base-ball playing -- the hotels. During one-half of the playing season, about eighty days of each year, every club has its team on the circuit, and the players are for the most part quartered at the very best hotels. Not less than $200,000 is spent in this way among the various hotels in cities which support base-ball clubs. Probably $1oo,ooo would be a small estimate of the rents paid by the clubs for their grounds, and certainly $200,000 would not more than pay the miscellaneous expenses, such as sleeping-car fares, carriage hire, advertising, salaries of ground employees, treasurers, and gatekeepers, and the purchase of supplies.

Add it all together, and you will have nearly two and a half-million of dollars paid out by professional base-ball clubs each year. It is not unlikely that these figures are too small to be correct, nor is it a hazardous guess to say that the profits of the whole season among all the clubs, over and above expenses, will reach a quarter of a million dollars. Then we find the American people paying each season $2,750,000 for their amusement in base-ball. Three spectators, on an average, will represent a dollar. So that we have a total attendance during the season of about eight millions of people. Divide this up into one hundred and thirty playing days, and you will arrive at the conclusion that the average daily attendance in America on base-ball games where admission fees are charged is over fifty thousand. This season, I believe, it will exceed sixty thousand.

It is not an unreasonable estimate to say that every day during this summer five million Americans will examine the columns of their favorite newspapers to see the result of the professional base-ball games of the previous day.