NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball broke its season attendance record Saturday and was on track to finish with the second-highest per-game average in the sport's history.
The 30 major league teams drew 75,470,941 through Saturday,
topping the 74,926,174 fans who attended games in 2005. The average
of 31,381 was on track to be the highest for a full season, topping
1993's 31,337. The only higher average was in the strike-shortened
1994 season, when baseball averaged 31,632 before players walked
out in mid-August.
"Yes, the wild card has worked. Yes, interleague play has
worked. Yes, revenue sharing has produced parity, which has
produced increased attendance in a lot of places," commissioner
Bud Selig said. "It's all of the above."
The New York Yankees broke their own American League record,
drawing 4,193,181 with one game remaining to top last year's
4,090,692. They joined Toronto (1991-92) as the only major league
teams to draw 4 million twice and will finish with the
second-highest total for a big league club behind Colorado's record
of 4,483,350, set at Denver's Mile High Stadium in 1993, the
Rockies' first season.
Six NL teams topped 3 million through Saturday: the Los Angeles
Dodgers (3,758,545), New York Mets (3,379,535), St. Louis
(3,362,971), San Francisco (3,087,482), Chicago Cubs (3,083,606)
and Houston (3,022,763). The Los Angeles Angels (3,362,683) were
the only other AL team to break 3 million.
Florida (1,127,366) and Pittsburgh (1,836,545) were the only NL
teams that failed to draw 2 million. Tampa Bay (1,368,950), Kansas
City (1,372,638) and Oakland (1,976,625) fell short in the AL, with
Cleveland drawing 1,975,916 going into its final game.
Selig credited the increased revenue sharing in the current
labor contract, which expires Dec. 19, for keeping more teams
competitive for playoff berths later into the season.
"A huge factor. You couldn't have seen Detroit or Minnesota, if you were back in the '90s, trying to do it," he said. "Labor peace
has also been a huge positive factor. The fact that there is not
all the anger there was for years. People got tired of reading all
that stuff and hearing about it."