Yesterday’s New York Times quoted Charles Alexander, author of Breaking the Slump: Baseball in the Depression Era, in their article on how baseball was affected by the Great Depression.
Needless to say, attendance was down, players’ salaries were cut, and even the New York Yankees lost money a couple of years during the Depression. Historians and economists are looking back to that era to see how today’s teams might fare. And, while times were tough, no major league teams folded and in their need to attract fans, the 30s brought on a period of innovation, including night games, an expansion of the minor leagues, and the increase of radio broadcasts.
Players from the period, despite the hardships, remember it fondly and proudly. From Breaking the Slump:
For ballplayers in the Depression era, the professional game wasn’t just how they wanted to make a living; for many of them, it was about the only way they could make a living. The players of those hard times would often look back on the baseball of their day as having been more rugged and generally more demanding than the game they watched in later decades. Billy Rogell, for one was sure of it…. “We got guys playing today that we wouldn’t have even let in the ballpark in my day. It’s a lousy way to say it but it’s true. I played in the best era of baseball.”