Wednesday, January 20, 2010

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The Yanks Are Coming, Or So They Hope - 04.06.70 - SI Vault

A preview of the 1970 season....look how down in the dumps the Yankees were. Amazin'

In 1969 the Yankees drew 1,067,996 spectators, the smallest number since World War II, and more than a million fewer than the Mets. Even in their last "pennant-winning year, 1964, the Yanks were outdrawn by the Mets, and since their descent into the second division they have hardly been noticed. With the departure of Mickey Mantle a year ago, the club of Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio was left with only one outstanding player. Pitcher Mel Stottlemyre, who has won 20 games in three of the last five seasons but who has about as much glamour as Harold Stassen.

Poor performance and the absence of shiny names has badly eroded fan appeal. The so-called "limousine" crowd, the New York businessmen who sit in corporation boxes and cheer as if they are afraid of dripping mustard on their $20 ties, was once a basic reason why the Yankees were considered a cold, distant plutocracy by many average fans, but they bought tickets. Not so long ago the Yankees used to be inundated each year with requests for season boxes. Now the demand has gone down drastically as the limousines head for Shea Stadium. Something similar has happened with tourists in New York. Fewer out-of-towners are coming to cheer for the visiting team against the hated Yankees. "It used to sound as though there were more people cheering against us than for us," says Yankee Vice-President Bob Fishel. "That doesn't happen anymore."

The decline of the Yankees has not been solely a result of the Mets' presence, even though there is a lingering feeling that New York is essentially a National League city. Fishel, who has been the Yankees' public-relations director since 1954, blames it on a lack of aggressiveness. "We missed the boat between 1958 and 1961 when we had the city to ourselves," he says. "We did not try hard enough to attract the kids who had been fans of the teams that had left New York.

The Yanks Are Coming, Or So They Hope - 04.06.70 - SI Vault

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