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— — . LfttiaK? v ...s.- : yr.*m Screen Baseball s Video Problem Attendance at Dodgers First : Four Home Games Off 18,000 Rickey Has Always Favored Television; Only 21,556 on Hand for Recent Night Game By BARNEY NAGLER NEW YORK, N. Y., May 1.— Dont look now, but baseballs television problem is being screened these days for its effects on : attendance. Not, mind you, that the magnates are viewing with immediate alarm. But there are signs of consternation all over the place, and not without reason. The Dodgers, for example, have long been in the forefront of videos arch disciples. Branch Rickey, the big brain, has said repeatedly, "I feel that televison makes customers in the long run. I hold to that viewpoint despite some signs to the contrary." However, even he has found some cause for concern in the first four home games at Ebbets Field, including the nocturnal inaugural. The Brooklyn turnstiles were pushed by only 70,144 these four days, a considerable drop from the 88,778 who were present over the same period last, year. Mind you, this ordinarily would not bring any tears to Rickeys bright eyes. But the most significant figure among these is the 21,556 who came out of the night to see the Dodgers under lights for the first time last Wednesday. Last season, when there werent as many video fans around to stay at home and still be in on the proceedings, 30,041 blood-and-bones customers enriched the Dodgers coffers. All through the *49 season this night attendance was maintained. The average for nocturnal encounters at Ebbets Field was 29,000, not much below capacity. Weather May Have Caused Slump The Dodgers arent alone in wondering what the future has mapped out for the turnstile. Friday night, up at the Polo Grounds, with the Giants taking on the Dodgers in their first pass at each other under lights, a full house was anticipated. Something less than this came to pass. Some 39,000 turned up to view the proceedings, a considerable slump from the expected figure. It wasnt a night for coldblooded customers, however, and this may have prompted many to stay in the warmth and comfort of their parlors to see the game. The weather is a prime factor in early-game attendances under normal circumstances. That is, it would be the only consideration if there was no television. But this not inconsiderable factor must be weighted carefully by the club owners for signs of the future. Rickey believes it requires from 20 to 25 days to tell how the attendance pendulum will swing. He bases this on his experiences in St. Louis, whe he was the poobah of operations for the Cardinals. "I never could tell for the first three weeks what would happen at the gate," he says, "but after that I was able to hit it pretty much on the nose." Rickey, of course, Is thinking in pre-television terms. Television has made a difference in sports promotion, beyond even the expectations of the networks and set manufacturers. Ownership of sets in this area has doubled since last year, with more than 500,000 in use at this time. Each screen is added competition for the ticket seller, even if he is working at Ebbets Field, from which many a saddened, ticket-less fan was away in the old days. Now the blow of not having a ducat can be softened considerably by viewing the struggle on the diamond via the television screen. The advance sale for the first night encounter at Ebbets Field was only 14,000. Your Aunt Myrtle could have walked up to the ticket booth at the park and grabbed herself a pasteboard at the going rate. You can blame — or bless — television for this switch. Certainly, the club owners are aware of this and are watching with considerable concern. After all, they are the guys who can lose -their shirts. Yes, even their nylon ones. LfttiaK? v ...s.- : yr.*m CHICO CARASSQUEL _ White Sox shortstop may be missing from the lineup when the Pale Hose open with the Yankees in the East today, the Latin splitting the flesh on his right thumb fielding a grounder in the double-header with the Tigers.