The game was largely a northeastern one, and contrary to the myth that the professional game has pastoral roots in the fields of agrarian America, the game was forged in the crucibles of an increasingly industrialized urban America.
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I think the map of professional baseball also shows how media can dramatically impact fan geography. Prior to that, local television was only just beginning to establish itself in urban centers, and prior to that, radio was king.
Geography Baseball 2 by Robert Pierce on Apple Books
Baseball owners in the early part of the century were wary of making deals to broadcast games on the radio, fearing that it would impact ticket sales, at the time one of their primary sources of revenue. Even after baseball became a dominant and popular source for content on radio, owners repeated the same approach with television.
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Concerned that television would impact ticket sales, the owners dragged their feet with opening up the game to television. Or consider the landmark deal the Red Sox made to bring the Japanese star Daisuke Matsuzaka to the United States in , a move made, in-part, to foster a Red Sox fan base in baseball-loving Japan it may be working.
In a way, what the Facebook map tries to represent is the changing geographic relationships to team fandom. That said, I may be in the minority, and there is some fascinating work being done on social TV behavior on Facebook and Twitter. I think it is worth noting, however, that media can have a dramatic impact on how fan groups organize and where they are located. This is especially apparent with the emergence of eSports, where the relationship between a team and geography is not necessarily as clear or direct.
Just as the owners served as gate-keepers with the emergence of radio and TV, as new media platforms emerge, the stakeholders who stand to make the most off the property of baseball have a vested interest in who gets to watch, when, and on what. He has authored a number of articles about sports and sports media and is co-editor of the book Sports Videogames. He currently works as an Associate Director of Communications at Wheaton College, in Norton, MA and as a researcher with the eSports company Azubu, and have studied and written about sports media.
I had some good comments wondering if the the original errors were due to the the projection. As always let me know if you have questions. A map of MLB geography, by proximity.
Baseball’s Curious Geography
Editor and columnist focusing on Washington sports and its history, Washington sports media, sports blogging. Map courtesy Nick Bonard. He became an editor in The story must be told.