Ed Barrow, general manager of the New York Yankees, was sure of one thing in 1930, and according to Joe Williams of The New York Telegram, he was so sure of it his declaration “caused the window panes to shiver in the frenzy of a maddened Simoon.”
The Yankees had signed Babe Ruth to the largest contract ever, and Williams asked, “whether baseball would ever see another $80,000 hired hand.”
“’No, you will never hear of another ballplayer getting that kind of money,’ said the gentleman who functions as the watchdog of the treasury of the richest ballclub in the game.”
Ruth being Ruth, he said, would ensure that no player would ever be paid as much:
“’Even if another Ruth came along he wouldn’t be able to command it, because he would be just another Ruth, and that means he would not be a novelty. He came along at a time when the receptivity of the fans welcomed a change from few-run games to batting orgies. It was a situation into which he fitted perfectly.’
“’It isn’t possible for a similar situation to occur twice in the course of baseball. All the great hitters in the future are going to suffer by comparison to Ruth, and this is going to operate against them as drawing cards. Nobody prefers a copy of the original.’”
Barrow remained general manager of the Yankees until 1945, and baseball economics combined with the Depression and then a World War allowed his prediction to hold true throughout his career, but just four years later, his former club proved him wrong when Joe DiMaggio became baseball’s first $100,000 player.
In August of 1930, Al Munro Elias, of the Elias Baseball Bureau, had some predictions about night baseball that he shared with The Brooklyn Eagle:
“’Night baseball (in the minor leagues) is succeeding now because it is a novelty. It will prosper as long as the novelty lasts, that is if the novelty doesn’t last too long. If it does, I fear there won’t be enough players to satisfy the customers’ desires. Make no mistake about it, the night game is hard on the players. The pitchers especially are going to feel the difference. The old throwing arms need the hot sun. Legs of all players’ need the sun…Night baseball isn’t real baseball. Real baseball needs the sun and plenty of it.”
His brother, and partner, Walter B. Elias, who had yet to see a night game, had another concern:
“Now it’s a novelty and the fans flock to it…Night games can’t begin until 8 o’clock or so, and now while it is a novelty the men come to it, but wait until you hear the holler that the missus will put up when her husband stays out several nights to go to the ball game.”
Five years later the novelty expanded to the major leagues.