Communication and the Baseball Stadium
Community, Commodification, Fanship, and Memory
Table Of Contents
- About the author(s)/editor(s)
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Introduction (Susan Drucker / Dale Herbeck)
- Odes to Stadiums
- Beyond the Stadium
- A Different Approach: Community, Fandom, Memory and Commodification
- Part One: Community and Communication
- Chapter One: Mass Culture Theories: Dodger Stadium or the House that Ruthlessness Built (Vincent Brook)
- Mass Culture Theory
- A Brief Historical Overview
- Phase One: The Battle of Chavez Ravine
- Phase Two: The Dodger Wars
- Chapter Two: Collective Memory: Citi Field, Urban Renewal and Communication (Susan J. Drucker / Gary Gumpert)
- Collective Memory
- Conflicts and Reconstruction
- Naming Rights
- The Urban Neighborhood
- The Willets Point Controversy
- Chapter Three: Discourse Communities: Rickwood Field as a Symbol of Segregation and Healing (Larry Powell / Jonathan Amsbary / Justin R. Johnston)
- The Culture of Baseball
- The Early Years
- Renovation and Segregation
- Restoration, Preservation, and Resurgence
- Rickwood and the Civil Rights Movement
- The Architecture of Baseball
- Understanding and Language
- Common Experiences
- Clear Identities
- Part Two: Fandom and Communication
- Chapter Four: Media Determinism: Yankee Stadium and the E-mediafication of the Baseball Stadium (Harvey Jassem)
- What Is “Technological Determinism”?
- The Baseball Spectator Experience
- It’s More than a Game: It’s Entertainment
- Amplified Sound
- Beyond Mass Amplification
- Concluding Remarks
- Chapter Five: Communication Freedoms and Limitations: Citizens Bank Park, Heckling and the First Amendment (Juliet Dee)
- History and Architectural Design of Citizens Bank Park
- Citizens Bank Park Guest Code of Conduct
- Communication Theory: The First Amendment Doctrine of “More Speech”
- “Speech Plus Conduct” in Citizens Bank Park and Other Baseball Stadiums
- Speech Plus Drunken Conduct
- Speech Plus Conduct and the Phillie Phanatic
- Is a Baseball Stadium a Public Forum?
- Is a Private Owner of a Baseball Stadium a State Actor?
- Privately Owned Public Space (POPS)
- Specific Attributes of Citizens Bank Park Related to Heckling
- Chapter Six: Symbolic Interactionism: Yogi Berra Stadium and the Minor League Ballpark Experience (Lewis Freeman)
- An Introduction to Symbolic Interactionism: A Theory of Communication
- The “Self:” the “I” and “Me”
- Yogi Berra Stadium
- The Location, History, and Attributes of Yogi Berra Stadium
- History of Yogi Berra Stadium
- Relevant Features of Yogi Berra Stadium: How the Stadium Structure Facilitates Symbolic Interaction
- Chapter Seven: General Semantics: Japan’s Koshien Stadium and Time-Binding Bushido (Michael H. Plugh)
- Korzybski’s General Semantics
- Koshien Stadium
- Time-Binding and Abstraction
- Nitobe’s Bushido
- Japanese ‘YAKYU”
- “The Laurels of Victory Shine on You”
- Part Three: Memory and Communication
- Chapter Eight: Public Memory Theory: On Remembering and Forgetting Old Tiger Stadium (Anthony C. Cavaiani)
- Studies of Public Memory
- The Struggle to Re-Member Detroit’s Sport Memory
- Recollecting Detroit
- The Haunting Force of Tiger Stadium
- Chapter Nine: Phenomenology and the Phantom Stadia Phenomenon: Forbes Field and Comiskey Park Remembered (Erik Garrett / Alexander Regina)
- Phenomenological Theory
- Phantom Limbs and Chiasmus
- Place Memory
- Phantom Stadia
- The Ghost of Forbes Field
- Ceremonial Symbolic Connections
- The Ghost of Old Comiskey Field
- Ceremonial Symbolic Connections
- There Used to Be a Ballpark
- The Phenomenological and Communicative Implications of the Phantom Stadium
- Chapter Ten: Narrative Theory: Building the Legacy of the Pittsburgh Pirates through PNC Park (Jean Ann Streiff)
- Walter Fisher and the Narrative Paradigm
- Description of PNC Park
- The Story of PNC Park
- The Legacy of Pirate Baseball
- Narrative Paradigm Analysis
- PNC Park as a Sharing Site of Community
- Narrative Paradigm Analysis
- Part Four: Commodification and Communication
- Chapter Eleven: Ritual View of Communication Theory: The Houston Astrodome and the Evolution of Stadium Construction (Robert Trumpbour)
- The Nation-State, the City, and the Emergence of Sports
- Early Ballpark Building and the Role of Communication
- Post World War II: The Emergence of Taxpayer-Funded Ballparks
- Predatory Capitalism: The Push for Citizen Funding and Owner Control
- Chapter Twelve: Transformational Communication: Wrapping Wrigley Field in a New Package (Adam Grossman)
- Why Losing Is Not So Loveable
- The Loveable Loser Brand
- Brand Essence
- Core Identity
- Extended Identity
- Transforming into a Winner
- Expect the Expected
- Wrigley Has Been the Same Since It Opened
- Sports Team & Owners Always Get What They Want
- Transforming into a Winner
- Brand Regeneration
- Brand Realization
- Chapter Thirteen: The Extended Self and Sports Marketing: The Opening of Jacobs Field (Thomas R. Flynn / Pennilane Carlisle)
- Baseball and the Extended Self
- Evolution of Cleveland Baseball and Ballparks
- Jacobs Field, Marketing and the Extended Self
- Stadium Index
- Series index
The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh […] people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
—TERRENCE MANN (PLAYED BY JAMES EARL JONES) IN FIELD OF DREAMS (1989)
In Shoeless Joe, W. P. Kinsella introduces readers to Ray Kinsella, an Iowa farmer obsessed with Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Black Sox Scandal of the 1919 World Series. To give his hero a chance at redemption, Kinsella carves a baseball field in one of his cornfields. Once the diamond is ready for play, Jackson and his teammates magically materialize for a series of games that Kinsella and his family watch from the bleachers.
It isn’t only Iowa to which they come, thousands are drawn to fields across the country on which baseball is played. Why do they come? What force attracts throngs to these fields? No doubt, most would answer that they come because they love watching baseball, a sport that is often called America’s past time. Some might argue that, unlike other sports, baseball is better experienced in person than it is watched on television. Because baseball is a deliberate game, there is a real opportunity to interact with friends, other fans, and with the venue. When a fan attends a baseball game, they become part of a larger community. This community exists in and around a place: The stadium. These structures are more than a place where baseball is played, more than a playing field, luxury boxes or bleachers, and ← ix | x → concession stands. They are places of interaction between fan and team, fans and fans, and community and sport. Stadiums are places of memory, of identity, of athletic and architectural accomplishment. They can create a community of fans and sustain the larger community through identification and have been used to revitalize cities in the fight against urban decay.
Sports fandom has been associated with community by experts in diverse disciplines. Of note is the explanation offered by Daniel Wann in Sports Fans: The Psychology and Social Impact of Spectators (Wann, Melnick, Russell, & Pease, 2001): “The simple fact is that people are looking for ways to identify with something to feel a sense of belonging-ness with a group of like-minded individuals” (Almendrala, 2015, para. 6). Echoing this sentiment, Paul Goldberger, former architectural critic for the New York Times and critic for the New Yorker, observes “the urban impulse is an impulse toward community—an impulse toward being together, and toward accepting the idea that however different we may be, something unites us” (Goldberger, 1997, p. 4). The importance and value of strong and engaged communities has been recognized (Putnam, 2001), as have the dangers of detachment and anomie. In this era of increased urbanization, sprawling cities offer co-existence rather than community. We live lives filled with contradictions of urban space in which civic engagement, place attachment, place identity, continual media connection, psychological presence, and involvement in public life are influenced by our media rich choices. Under the current circumstances the places and spaces of community become increasingly significant. The connection to the world created by community enhances social and psychological health and this has been linked with sports team fandom (Almendrala, 2015).
The essence of sports fandom is community tied by etymological association to communication. The ballpark is a place of communication—a place that communicates and a place in which communication is central—between structure and game, between spectators and ballplayers. Sports fandom encourages sociability (Melnick, 1993). The social interactional function of attending a sporting event as an engaged fan is a significant reason for attendance. “For many fans, the primary incentive for attending spectator sports lies in the social nature of the event. The specific social incentives vary from spectator to spectator” (Wann et al., 2001, p. 64). Spectator sports like baseball offer shared experiences, conversation and memories. Stadiums are places to symbolically communicate affiliation by wearing a cap, a jersey, team colors, or even singing a common song. “Take me out to the ballgame” can be heard as a plea for social interaction and shared experience.
Baseball has been studied as a communicative act. The importance of communication about the game has been studied (e.g. sports journalism, books, films). So too has the communicative connection associated with the game (e.g. interpersonal communication in face-to-face and mediated environments) (Drucker & Gumpert, 2002). The ballpark has been explored by communication scholars ← x | xi → as a context for public communication. The communication rituals of spectators, for example, has been studied (Tavener, 2002). The stadium as a medium of communication has been studied from the ways a design communicates and shapes interactional patterns, to the public announcement systems, to the advertising and introduction of high-tech scoreboards (Drucker & Gumpert, 2002). The baseball stadium as a place of “home” that contributes to a sense of community has been explored (Trujillo, 1992).
ODES TO STADIUMS
There are an impressive number of books about baseball stadia. Many of these volumes were designed to create a forum for sharing memories of favorite stadia. They give authors free rein to nostalgically recall the wins, loses, and idiosyncrasies of park, teams, and fans. With titles like A Panoramic History (Sandalow, 2004), The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan’s Guide to Major League Stadiums (Pahigian & O’Connell, 2004), and Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All Major League Ballparks (Lowry, 2006), these books promise to serve as guides to Major League ballparks. These works are closely related to books about historical stadia exemplified by Take Me Out to the Ballpark Revised and Updated: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present Featuring Every Major League Park, Plus Minor League and Negro League Parks (Leventhal, 2011), Ballparks Then and Now (Enders, 2002), and Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball’s Legendary Fields (Ritter, 1992).
Some stadiums have become so famous that they warrant a dedicated volume. So, for example, we have Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season, and Fenway’s Remarkable First Year (Stout, 2011), Old Comiskey Park: Essays and Memories of the Historic Home of the Chicago White Sox, 1910–1991 (Sullivan, 2014), and Yankee Stadium: The Official Retrospective (Vancil & Santasiere, 2008). Anniversaries tend to yield volumes typified by the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field, a momentous event that resulted in titles such as Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs (Berkow, 2014), A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred (Will, 2014) and Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines (Shea, 2014). While Shea Stadium never achieved Wrigley’s iconic status, the destruction of Shea Stadium in 2009 produced produced So Long, Shea: Five Decades of Stadium Memories (Kiner, 2008), Shea Stadium: Images of Baseball (Antos, 2007), and The Last Days of Shea: Delight and Despair in the Life of a Mets Fan (Brand, 2009).
Rather than commenting on specific stadiums, there is a line of research on the evolution of stadiums. Lowry (2006), for example, observes that baseball stadia have evolved through at least three eras identified as the “classic ballpark” ← xi | xii → (1900–1960), the “super stadium” (1960–1990), and the “regenerated classic ballpark” or “retro ballpark” (1990–present). According to this narrative, the classic ballparks of an earlier era were embedded into neighborhoods, idiosyncratically shaped by their surrounding and placement. These were situated just outside central business districts at locations “served by as many trolley, subway, and railroad lines as possible” (Nasaw, 1993, p. 97).
The “super stadium” was an artifact of suburbanization and the dominance of the automobile. Giant super stadia were usually located along major traffic arteries that emptied into ample parking lots removed from the surrounding community. These multi-purpose stadia, sometimes domed, “reflected a need to shut out the unpleasant realities of the 1980s: the slow painful death of inner cities” (Gershman, 1993, p. 214). The Astrodome in Houston, Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Shea Stadium in New York, Olympic Stadium in Atlanta, the Metrodome in Minneapolis, the Sky Dome in Toronto and the Kingdome in Seattle all reflect this era.
These ballparks began to come down with the rise of the next era of ballparks characterized as retro ballparks. These stadia reveal the urban phenomenon of the building state-of-the-art, baseball stadiums nostalgically designed to create a new and improved reconstructed past. These “new old” parks have been created throughout the United States beginning with Oriole Park in Baltimore opened in 1992. Since that time the pattern has been repeated many times over: Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Seattle, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Houston, Arlington, Texas, and San Diego. Retro parks are generally built on a smaller scale accessible by mass transit. In Retro Ball Parks, Daniel Rosenweig, documents the new urban landscape around these stadiums. He critically examines the resulting urban environment created by the new ballpark which is often more commercial and homogenous than the pre-existing urban neighborhood. More recently, Mark Byrnes (2012) asked, “Is the retro ballpark movement officially over?”
Most recently, critics have proclaimed the death of the retro ballpark. Byrnes (2012), for example, argues the New York Met’s new home Citi Field, which opened in 2009, may be the last retro-classic ballparks. The next era may be modern stadiums featuring classical interiors, but with more dramatic exteriors such as Target Field in Minneapolis, Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., and Marlins Park in Florida
BEYOND THE STADIUM
There are memoirs about personal experiences in stadia and working in stadia such as Working at the Ballpark (Jones, 2008). There are works about the commercial ← xii | xiii → side of stadia, the branding of stadia and cities and the public/private partnership economics of stadium building such as The Rise of Stadiums in the Modern United States: Cathedrals of Sport (Dyreson & Trumpbour, 2013), They Play, You Pay: Why Taxpayers Build Ballparks, Stadiums, and Arenas for Billionaire Owners and Millionaire Players (Bennett, 2012), and The New Cathedrals: Politics and Media in the History of Stadium Construction (Trumpbour, 2007). There are also books dedicated to the history of eras of stadium building and advances in design: The Astrodome: Building an American Spectacle (Gast, 2014), Ballpark: Camden Yards and the Building of an American Dream (Richmond, 1995), Retro Ball Parks: Instant History, Baseball, New American City (Rosensweig, 2005).
There is less written about the urban baseball stadium in the history of cities. Typically, what is written is about ballparks as an element of urban history yet major league baseball has deep urban roots. Downtown baseball stadia embedded in urban neighborhoods are not new. Urban roots are evidenced by the fact that the original name for the Dodgers was the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers. In terms of how the urban setting of baseball affected people’s behavior, fans conducted all related business in the stadium. The area around Wrigley Field has long unofficially been known as Wrigleyville. The relationship of urbanism and ballparks is evident in City Baseball Magic – Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks (Bess, 1999), a book that explores the sense of community created by the classic neighborhood ballparks part of the spatial fabric of cities. Written by a professor of architecture, this volume places larger urban issues within the context of baseball venues. It documents the move from historical downtown ballparks to suburban stadia placed in the midst of large parking lots removed from local neighborhoods.
Yet sport infrastructure is now recognized as “an important catalyst for urban redevelopment” (Santee, 2012). Ballparks serve as anchors of district redevelopment and city branding. City revitalization and urban transformation has been the justification for building projects in Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Houston, San Francisco and Cleveland to name but a few. The urban park has promised to provide a lively sports-anchored neighborhood safe enough to draw suburban residents and tourists to the heart of downtown. In the process, development and gentrification displace some and fundamentally alters the urban neighborhood.
A DIFFERENT APPROACH: COMMUNITY, FANDOM, MEMORY AND COMMODIFICATION
There is little written about the communicative nature of baseball. Take Me Out to the Ballgame: Communicating Baseball (Gumpert & Drucker, 2002) provided a scholarly examination of baseball’s diverse communication perspectives including: ← xiii | xiv → the role of storytelling in the creation of its history; the social function of baseball; the nature of fan experience; public spectacles and rituals; and the nature of sports writing and broadcasting. Some scholarly communication research has addressed baseball including the work of Nick Trujillo (i.e. “Interpreting (the Work and the Talk of) Baseball: Perspectives on Ballpark Culture” (1992), and “Emotionality in the Stands and in the Field: Expressing Self Through Baseball” (Trujillo & Krizek, 1994)). The Society for American Baseball Research, a nonprofit organization dedicated to baseball scholarship, is now located within Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
To date, however, almost nothing has been written about baseball stadiums as sites of communication and community. Baseball stadiums provides a unique lens through which to understand, explore and even expand our understanding of communication theories. This volume explores communication and communication theories through an examination of the four discrete themes that frame the organization of this work: Community and Communication, Fandom and Communication, Memory and Communication, and Commodification and Communication. The contributors to this volume are a passionate and committed group of scholars with a genuine love of the game and commitment to communication scholarship.
Section 1 is devoted to “Community and Communication”. In Chapter 1, Brook, utilizes mass culture theory to consider the history, development and community displacement associated with the building of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Moving from the West Coast to East Coast, in Chapter 2, Drucker and Gumpert explore collective memory theory through a case study in the building of the New York Mets retro park Citi Field. Urban renewal, displacement and a strange case of misplaced collective memory imposed on the stadium are examined in this tale of the destruction and creation of community. In Chapter 3, Powell, Amsbary, and Johnston examine the way urban stadia function as a form of symbolic communication. The story of an historic minor league stadium, Rickwood Field, is used to illustrate the powerful symbolism associated with segregation and baseball in Birmingham, Alabama.
Moving beyond the broader community, Section 2 is devoted to “Fandom and Communication.” In Chapter 4, Jassem considers the technologizing of the stadium experience in his work featuring the new Yankee Stadium in New York. By employing a theoretical perspective of technological determinism, this essay considers fan experience through the current mediatized baseball sound/mediascape of the ballpark. In Chapter 5, Dee explores the rights of expression of the fans at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. From the public forum doctrine to heckler’s rights, this essay considers the rights and freedoms of the urban ballpark as a communicative environment. Moving to the minor league fan’s experience, in Chapter 6, Freeman uses symbolic interactionism in Yogi Berra Stadium. He considers physical features that influence social interaction at the stadium. Baseball is ← xiv | xv → not a game limited to North American cities. In Chapter 7, Plugh employs the theoretical view of general semantics to explore communication in the baseball stadium in an urban environment of Japan. More specifically, this chapter applies Korzybski’s perspective on time-binding to Koshien Stadium located near Kobe.
Section 3 delves into “Memory and Communication.” In Chapter 8, Caviani explores the rhetorical construction of memory about the “old” Tiger Stadium in Detroit. Garrett and Regina focus on the lingering power of stadia alive in memory alone in Chapter 9. Utilizing phenomenology, this chapter considers the “phantom” stadia of Pittsburgh and Chicago. Concluding the consideration of stadia and memory, Chapter 10 considers how stadiums can be used to create and reinforce memories. Using the narrative paradigm, Strieff examines the powerful stories told by the monuments around Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.
The final section, “Commodification and Communication,” focuses on the way in which stadiums are marketed and sold. In Chapter 11, Trumpbour applies a ritual view of communication to explain the history and some of the cultural issues associated with the construction of Houston’s Astrodome. In Chapter 12, Grossman applies transformational communication theory to examining how Wrigley Field has been used to market the Chicago Cubs. Finally, in Chapter 13, Flynn and Carlisle use the idea of the extended self to explore the design and marketing of Cleveland’s retro park, Jacob’s Field.
This volume provides a lens through which to consider communication and urban communities by examining baseball stadia as communication environments. The intention is to address topics of significance to both scholarly and public discourse and to provide readers the opportunity to consider these issues through an accessible presentation of complex communication theories. This volume is not intended to provide a comprehensive chronicle of past and future urban baseball stadia, however, it does provide exemplars of stadia and relevant communication theories.
Former Baseball Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti (1998) wrote an essay entitled “The Green Fields of the Mind” which has become a poignant staple of baseball literature. In describing baseball at the end of a season he said: “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.” The same can be said for the connection we have with the special places in which we experience those games. Many of the chapters in this volume attest to that special bond between fan, team, community, place, and city.
Giamatti also wrote: “When I was seven years old, my father took me to Fenway Park for the first time, and as I grew up I knew that as a building it was on the level with Mount Olympus, the Pyramid at Giza, the nation’s Capitol, the Czar’s Winter Palace and the Louvre. Except, of course, that it was better than all those inconsequential places” (Frommer & Frommer, 2014, p. 155). Through this volume, the authors and editors seek to add insights into urban communication and communication theory through a thoughtful study of these very consequential places. ← xv | xvi →
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- 2017 (July)
- New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. XVIII, 288 pp.