The Rays drew only 12,446 for last night’s potential playoff-clinching game. But don’t let any Red Sox fans (like Bill Simmons) try to tell you that means the Bay Area doesn’t deserve baseball. Because if that is the criteria, Boston would have lost the Red Sox years ago

MLB Network keeps paying attention. Within a 9-minute retrospective, it has been showing hidden-away footage of Ted Williams’ last at bats — his last, a home run against the Orioles’ Jack Fisher — 50 years ago, Tuesday…There were 10,454 fans in cold, windy Fenway Park that Wednesday. The seventh-place Red Sox still had three games left to play in New York — and would lose all three — but Williams already had decided that Sept. 28 in Boston would be his last game; he wouldn’t even make the trip here.

Less than 11,000 for Ted Williams last game!?! The greatest hitter ever. The Rays had more fans for Josh Paul’s last game.

And this was not an anomaly. This is the same franchise that claims the most loyal of fanbases and yet couldn’t even draw 50% capacity for 15 of their 81 home games (18.5%) in 1986, a year the Red Sox went to the World Series. The same team that as recently as 1998 finished in the lower half in AL attendance (9th of 14).

 
 

34 Comments

  1. This was uplifting as I want the bandwagon Boston fans brag about their attendance on ESPN comments board..

  2. Greatest. Attendance post. Ever.

  3. Carey says:

    Let us not forget that this was at a time when Baseball was THE SPORT in the United States. The NFL and AFL had yet to merge and become the behemoth they are now. The NBA was an afterthought and the NHL, I believe, had just 6 teams in the Northeast, Midwest and Canada. No cable TV, no rental movies, nada.

  4. Steve says:

    Cork, the next time you’re interviewed by somebody and the question of attendance comes up, please ask the interviewer when the last time was they paid for anything at a baseball park. I can’t decide if I’m more sick of millionaire players, or members of the sports establishment dictating to people who have normal jobs how often they should go to baseball games. I don’t know of one person who isn’t impacted by the current economic climate, I know of several people in larger markets where their company has scaled back on things like season tickets. Even the hallowed Yankees have empty seats behind home plate, which I assume is indicative of the economic climate. It is unfortunate that the Rays fortunes improved at the same time the economy took a crap but it doesn’t change the fact that unemployment in the Bay area is 12.5% – I hate to break it to Mike Greenberg but people aren’t liquidating their 401Ks to go to a baseball game. As irritated as I get at Stu’s comments, at least his motives are pure, he’s saying things to make more money, the others are simply detached from reality.

  5. Grace says:

    Thanks for this. I’ve been depressed all day about Longoria and Price. I was there last nite. I’ll be there tonight.

  6. REAL BASEBALL FAN says:

    Rays fans are pathetic. How do you not show up with your team on the verge of a playoff clinch in the last week of the season? This team needs to be moved. There are too many transient fans in Tampa that already have loyalties to other teams. Price and Longoria are both right! How can you blame them for speaking the truth? I’d be embarrassed to if my team was one of the best in baseball and we still couldn’t sell more then 10,000 seats. Rays fans only show up when they play the Red Sox, Yankees, or make the playoffs. Not really how most of them can even call themselves fans. I was at Fenway last week. The Sox are al but eliminated from the playoffs but, they still sold out the park. Know why? Because their fan base actually cares about their team. The only hope for the Rays to garner their own good fan base is to move out of Tampa, and Florida, all together.

  7. Cork Rocks! says:

    Can you pleeease find something like this on the Yanks? Maybe in the 80′s?

  8. REAL BASEBALL FAN says:

    Oh and Steve… The Rays couldn’t put fans in the seats prior to the recession. So I’m not to sure about your point there. Plus the sell more tickets everytime the Sox and Yankees are in town, when the ticket prices are doubled. So you are going to tell me that people only care about the economy when the Rays arent playing the Sox or Yanks? You are blaming the wrong thing. it isn’t the economy, it’s the fan base.

  9. I think Evan’s remarks are naive. If he understood the value of his contract when he signed it, was worth considerably more what it is now. He thinks he is making $880,000 this year, but the true value of that is probably a lot less ($611,000) compared to when he signed it. If he had requested to be paid in gold bullion, he would have been paid $1,278,329.00 this year. The dollars he is being paid today are inflationary and are going to be a lot worse as time goes by. He may decide to watch where his discretionary income is going, as his contract shrinks more and more he may not be able to afford to buy tickets anymore.

    • REAL BASEBALL FAN says:

      Educating us on what? We know all this. But there is still a far cry between the 86 Red Sox having less than 50% attendance for 18% of their games and the Rays having less than 50% attendance for more than 50% of their games in 2010. How can you watch any Rays game where there is seat after empty seat in a year when they have the best record in baseball and still claim they have a good fan base. You are lying to yourselves!

  10. Rays Rox says:

    Great insightful post. Thanks for educating the Sox Nation.

  11. hellrayser says:

    So the fact that the Sox had pathetic attendance once is supposed to make it better that the Rays have pathetic attendance? Your perpetually defensive attendance posts are getting really wearying.

    This guy Freud had some interesting things to say about “reaction formation” once. You could look it up.

    • Mike says:

      i believe the point was just that poor attendance at one point is not a good enough reason to say a certain city doesn’t deserve a baseball team.

      A guy named Seuss had some interesting things to say about “reading” once. You could look it up.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      If you think this blog is “perpetually defensive” about anything Rays-related, then you must not come here very often. For example, where else are you going to find numerous posts pointing out that attendance is down from 2009 when economy was just as bad, the stadium was in the same location and the team wasn’t nearly as good.

      I’m not defending against criticism of the attendance. I’m defending against hypocrites.

      • hellrayser says:

        Fair enough, although you seem to object whenever anyone in the media voices any concern about the Rays’ attendance and payroll, as though only fans of the team are supposed to take notice of all the blue seats. I love your blog, don’t get me wrong – I’m just sick of that one note.

        I just don’t think it’s all that reasonable to expect ESPN to run a crawl at the bottom of the screen that says “The Red Sox had low attendance once, too…” every time they do a story that mentions the Rays’ low attendance. Bill Simmons might be a Sox fan, and he certainly has a rooting interest in his own team, and he might even be gloating a little bit – but that doesn’t make him wrong to think that the payroll shedding to come is a shame. He probably deplores that people didn’t go see Ted Williams’ last game, too, if he knows.

        It actually wouldn’t suit the Yankees or Sox at all to have the Rays pick up and move – they’d almost certainly be replaced by a team with a bigger payroll. If you’re a Sox fan, it’s best for the Rays’ attendance to be just high enough to keep them in town, but low enough to hurt their competitiveness for players – which is exactly where they’re at. If Simmons and his ilk were ONLY shameless Sox shills, and not genuinely concerned about the spectre of the Marlins, they’d keep their mouths shut.

  12. BW says:

    Congrats to Evan and David, you are now officially Floridians. You now know what its like to grow up and love a state full of people who come here and talk about how great where they used to live was. So could you take it easy on the ones that actually care?

  13. Amanda says:

    Well played, Cork :)

  14. Carey says:

    A couple questions “Real” Baseball Fan. Maybe you can enlighten us hicks with your genius.

    1. Exactly, where would you move the Rays that would be any better than Tampa with a new stadium. And remember, we’re talking 10-15 years out. First year (or five) honeymoon periods don’t count.

    2. Why do you care? Seriously. You seem so angry – almost livid – about Rays attendence. It seems a little odd coming from someone who has no rooting interest in the Rays (Sox, I’m assuming). In fact, I’d say it’s almost wierd and creepy. I mean, you’re this emotionally invested in the attendance of a team you have no rooting interest for? The question is: Why?

    Maybe you need to see a shrink. And that’s not a jab or a joke. I’m f–king serious.

    • REAL BASEBALL FAN says:

      Well lets see. I’d move them to maybe a city in the Carolina’s, possibly Georgia or Alabama. There is also the possibility of Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, or even Albuquerque. Anywhere has to be better than the turnout they get in St. Pete. Heck, even moving the stadium to Tampa might help. As far as my being “creepy and weird”. I am a baseball fan and find it disheartening that such a good team has such a horrible fan base. i am not emotionally invested one bit. I am not mad, livid, or any other adjective you’d like to throw out there. As a matter of fact you seem to be emotionally invested in my blog response. Someone you don’t know, have never met, and have no clue about. Yet you try to take a pop shot at me with your pathetic assumption of my mental state. I’d have to suggest that perhaps it’s you with the issues. But that’s neither here nor there. The REAL questions here are …Why do you care about what I think so much….WHY? Why don’t the fans in tampa come to games when their team is the best in baseball…..WHY? And again, the entire country is in a recession and people still fill stadiums on a nightly basis. So please let’s not use that as an excuse.

      • Carey says:

        “Well lets see. I’d move them to maybe a city in the Carolina’s, possibly Georgia or Alabama. There is also the possibility of Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, or even Albuquerque”

        Laughable. Lateral moves at best (and did you seriously suggest Alabama? Wow!). If we can’t figure out a way to get a new stadium in Tampa, if the local pols can’t make it happen, then I’d understand a move. But at this point, it’s too early in the game.

        “i am not emotionally invested one bit. I am not mad, livid, or any other adjective you’d like to throw out there. As a matter of fact you seem to be emotionally invested in my blog response. Someone you don’t know, have never met, and have no clue about. Yet you try to take a pop shot at me with your pathetic assumption of my mental state. I’d have to suggest that perhaps it’s you with the issues. But that’s neither here nor there. The REAL questions here are …Why do you care about what I think so much….WHY?”

        Dude, relax. That’s a pretty long paragraph for someone so unattached to the issue. “Care” is a strong word. Curiosity is more like it. I just find it odd that a fan of another team (one that competes with us I presume) would be on a Rays site, goading Rays fans and getting all worked into a lather about “our” attendance issues. Excuse me if I find that odd.

        “Why don’t the fans in tampa come to games when their team is the best in baseball”

        Myriad reasons. Been there, done that, not going there again. It’s pointless. We need a new stadium – a real one – and we need one in the center of the population not on the western fringe.

        “And again, the entire country is in a recession and people still fill stadiums on a nightly basis. So please let’s not use that as an excuse.”

        Really? What color is the sky in your world? Attendance is down league wide – with the usual exceptions of Chicago and Boston, which are basically tourist attractions. San Diego, Cincinnatti and Atlanta, among others, have had similarly sparce crowds. It’s compounded here for, as I said earlier, myriad reasons nobody wants to go into now.

      • Sarah says:

        Real Baseball fan: Thanks for giving me a good chuckle. Move the team to Alabama! Yeah, lots of big cities with high income folks there. And the huge attendance at Braves games makes me think that Georgia could certainly support a second time. Yep, you really have some good ideas.

  15. Joe Rays Fan says:

    Just for a little perspective, Ted Williams’ National League hitting rival who played over the same time frame as Williams, Stan Musial, played his last in St. Louis in 1963 before 27,576 at Sportsman’s Park (not a downtown stadium).

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN196309290.shtml

  16. Stats Lie says:

    Um, the figure about the Red Sox attendence in 1998 is very disingenuous, and you know it. The Red Sox attendence that year was 2,314,704 out of a capacity of 2,765,658. They could have sold out all 81 games and still finished fifth in attendence. As it was, they didn’t sell out by about 5,000 a game, finishing with about 84% of total capacity. The absurdity of the argument is equal to the absurdity of the argument you are attempting to refute.

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