By: Kathleen Derieux
On Wednesday night, March 24th 2010, Camden County College’s civic hall filled with numerous people interested about the upcoming lecture: Philadelphia Baseball during the Great Depression. The lecture, which had started at 7p.m, had people lining up at the door with anticipation to hear Professor Bruce Kuklick’s discussion. Before the lecture had begun, Jack Pesda informed the audience on the other upcoming events that the Center for Civic Leadership and Responsibility had planned for the next few weeks. Within a few minutes, Pesda had formally introduced Professor Kuklick and the lecture had begun.
Kuklick started out the speech by stating that the Philadelphia Phillies were not the only franchise of baseball in the 1920’s. Though the Phillies were a franchise nonetheless, there was also another baseball franchise, the Philadelphia A’s. The Professor continued by saying that the A’s were the more important of the two teams during this time. While the Phillies were just playing, the A’s had gone on to win four American League Pennants and five Championships. The A’s owner, Connie Mays, paid more money for ball players and in return had a better baseball team. As Kuklick described the teams, he vigorously motioned his hands and spoke passionately about the subject, and a little more passionately about the A’s, as he states they are his favorite team.
Professor Kuklick also explained how there were generally four things managers did to increase money income during the Depression. The first thing was the hours of opening the stadiums. The second was the growth of concessions and even the introduction of the well-known hot dog. With the use of the radio being brand new to everyone, advertising on the radio was the third factor in making more money. Finally, consolidation made Connie Mays more money as time passed.
When asked what she had thought about the lecture, Karen Ninca, an audience member, had said, “Very knowledgeable about baseball, obviously passionate about the sport,” talking about Bruce Kuklick. She continued by saying, “It was a good lecture for a serious baseball fan. He was a clear, good speaker. However, I would have liked more on how baseball affected people during the Great Depression, for example, like an escape. Also, more on how the players lived. I definitely would have liked visuals; the topic lends itself well to photos of players and ball parks. A lot could have been done to enhance this.”
At the conclusion of his lecture, Professor Kuklick had a question and answer discussion where members of the audience asked general questions they had about the subject. With many of the audience members being part of the older generation, there were many members that were extremely avid about the topic. Overall, the lecture was very knowledgeable. Professor Kuklick knew the information he was speaking about, enough to publish a book titled To Every Thing a Season, which was sold right outside for interested audience members.