Short Stops

By Brent Shyer

Baseball’s Franchise of the 20th Century

In October 1998, the Los Angeles Dodgers were recognized as the “Best Major League Baseball Organization of the 20th Century” in a study that ranked on-field performance and attendance by Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal. For 50 of those years, the O’Malley family were in leadership roles, starting with Walter O’Malley as a partner in 1944 and continuing with Peter O’Malley from 1970-1998.

When Sports Business Journal calculated performance ratings for each decade, the Dodgers were atop the major league rankings for the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. According to the publication dated October 19-25, 1998, SBJ “analyzed the track record of the 35 major league franchises that played at least 10 seasons between 1901 and 1998. The rating formula evaluated each team’s level of success on the field and at the box office, giving equal weight to each. Los Angeles finished first with a century performance index of 7.63 on a 10-point scale, followed by the New York Yankees at 7.13.

Roger Noll, a Stanford University economist, said, “…I would have no quarrel with saying the Dodgers were the best-managed baseball team of the century. In fact, they’re a contender for the best in any sport.”

In notes about each team, SBJ wrote: The Dodgers “have drawn 107.7 million fans in just 41 years; every other franchise that passed 100 million mark took more than 80 years to do so. Dodgers boast five World Championships since 1958.”

Regarding the decade-by-decade ratings in the 1970s, SBJ reported: “The Los Angeles Dodgers (8.15) won three National League crowns in the 1970s. But the Dodgers’ most impressive accomplishment occurred at the box office in 1978, when they became the first team to sell 3 million tickets in a single year.”