Practice Ball

April 30, 1953

There were a couple of Page 1 stories that were tough for anyone to flip past.

An outbreak of more frequent, longer-distance home runs inspired the inevitable speculation that the baseballs themselves were enlivened – or in the colloquial term, juiced.

It has always been a difficult accusation to prove. It is a handy alibi for pitchers and will draw growls from sluggers. Major League Baseball’s motivation is obvious – attendance was tumbling.

In 1948, MLB’s overall attendance was 20,920,000; in 1952, the combined total for its 16 teams was 14,632,000.

Of course, baseball’s TV coverage had soared over that span. Eventually, MLB understood the value of rights fees.

Also on Page 1 that day, a Boston Globe reporter attended the player draft of the Hingham Little League’s six teams. A total of 228 roster spots were available and filled between 7:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m.

Some parents bemoaned their child’s fate – being drafted later than expected, or by a coach they didn’t like, or by no one.

Players who were not drafted, or were cut, were assigned to a four-team minor league, so they would be playing ball that summer.

Such parents remain in evidence today.

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