When Alfred Lord Tennyson penned “Locksley Hall” in 1835, he surmised, “In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”
Had Tennyson been an American just ten short years later, he might have chosen baseball as the focus of his young man’s interest.
According to what’s now acknowledged as popular myth, baseball didn’t officially come into being until 1839, when Abner Doubleday reputedly “invented” the game in Cooperstown, N.Y.
The first official game – based on rules codified in 1845 by Alexander Cartwright – wasn’t played until June 19, 1846.
The host New York Knickerbockers lost that game – contested against a group of local cricket players dubbed the New York Nine – by the embarrassing score of 23-1.
Whether or not that was the first game remains unclear, with some dating baseball’s beginning to 1791 in Pittsfield, Mass., and others tracing its origins back to Europe earlier in the 18th century.
But regardless of when and where it began one thing is certain: Baseball became America’s favorite game.
Quickly dubbed the “national pastime,” its popularity continues to grow.
Baseball Might as Well be Moneyball
Though the recent recession did cut into attendance at Major League Baseball games somewhat, 73,425,665 fans visited ballparks in 2011.
That’s down only slightly from 2007 when 79,502,524 filed through the turnstiles, setting an all-time record.
And, while this year probably won’t quite challenge the 2007 high, another increase is expected during the 2012 season, which opens today at the new ballpark of the renamed Miami Marlins in downtown Miami. Six more opening-day games will follow on Thursday.
Revenues for Major League teams also continue to grow, approaching $7 billion in 2011, including television contracts and concession and memorabilia sales.
Meanwhile, the value of the teams themselves is certainly not in question – not given the $2 billion just offered for the L.A. Dodgers by a group headed by basketball great Magic Johnson.
Strangely, however, for a sport considered the national pastime and drawing nearly 75 million fans a year, with many more watching on TV and listening to games on the radio, baseball offers a very limited number of opportunities for the average investor.
Indeed, only three of the 30 major league teams are currently owned by publicly traded companies, and baseball represents only a modest portion of their total businesses.
How Buy a Piece of Your Own Baseball Team
Thus, if you want to be an actual owner of a major league baseball team today – at least through your portfolio – you’re limited to buying shares in:
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