Baseball - the People's Sport S.S. Steiner, Louis Gimbel IV, Yankees

Wright Thompson wrote an excellent article about his experience attending a Yankees game in one of the $1200/per game seats. He illustrates how baseball has changed as it has become an extreme display of the haves and have-nots.

The article illustrates Wall Street's impact on the Yankees and visa versa. It's scary to think our brokers and traders were making decisions on our behalf based on getting good tickets to the game. Fortunately that's all stopped now....

In one very interesting segment he details the former longest running season ticket holder in Yankees history, the Gimbel family, and why they are no longer season ticket holders:
His name is Louis Gimbel IV, the president of an international hops company, Hopsteiner. He's the fourth generation of his family to run it. The man who founded it, his great-grandfather S.S. Steiner, loved the Yankees, which is why he stuck with the team through the Depression. Many people couldn't go to games anymore. Attendance fell from 1.1 million in '27 to 650,000 in '35. Through it all, the Yankees refused to lower their prices. Owner Jacob Ruppert's reasoning made a certain sense: He had never raised prices during the boom of the 1920s.

By 1934, Steiner was one of only two season-ticket holders left. After the other man -- who invented the safety razor -- died, his heirs let the seats go. But Steiner passed his down. Steiner's son wound up with the seats, and when he was killed during World War II, the family took his son to the 1941 World Series immediately after the funeral to try to get his mind off losing his daddy. That little boy was Louis Gimbel's father.

As recently as last year, Gimbel still sat in the same spot. Now he's gone. He finally said no. Lots of his friends did, too. The Yankees wanted too much, pushed too hard.

Last year, during a game, a Yankees employee called Gimbel up to a luxury suite and put on the hard sell for the new stadium's ticket packages. Gimbel had to sign now, he was told. Tickets were going fast. Oh, and his cost would go from $225 a ticket to $900 a ticket, and he wouldn't be sitting in the same place. He couldn't believe the tone of the guy. "I've been in a lot of tough negotiations with big companies," Gimbel says, "and I've never disrespected someone as much as that guy."

Later, he toured the new stadium. He has photos on his cell phone of himself in the hard hat. The salesman pushed again.

He said: The food's free, which Gimbel pointed out wasn't exactly true.

He said,: You won't be bothered by any "riffraff."

Gimbel couldn't believe what he was hearing. He's the president of a large New York company, with historical ties to the team and modern ties to huge sponsors of Major League Baseball, and his family members have been premium ticket holders for 85 years. If they're treating him like this, how must they be treating someone sitting in the upper deck? All of New York was in a financial panic, and he was in a half-built stadium, getting a full-on shakedown for thousand-dollar baseball tickets.

"Do you know what just happened to Bear Stearns?" Gimbel asked the guy.

The salesman either didn't know or didn't care.

Gimbel said no. Not because he didn't have the money but because a bond had been broken. On Opening Day, Gimbel took photos of his old spot. He didn't recognize any of the people. "There were some heavy hitters sitting around us," he says. "There are none of them left sitting there."

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