With records looming, baseball booming
MLB sets all-time one-day attendance mark on Saturday
How popular is baseball right now?
Saturday was the most well-attended day in Major League Baseball history, drawing 717,478 fans for 17 games, an average of 42,205. They came to see widespread pennant chasing as well as such unique individual drama as Barry Bonds' quest for the home run record and Alex Rodriguez's bid for 500 homers.
In fact, the last two Saturdays have represented two of the three most attended days in history. The previous Saturday, July 21, drew 639,628 fans for 16 games, the second-highest total before this weekend. No. 2 on the all-time list is July 3, 1999, when 640,412 fans attended 17 Major League games.
As a nod to all those generations of baseball fans before us, it must be duly noted that for much of the 20th century, Major League Baseball was comprised of two leagues each with eight clubs. So Saturday's record is not to be compared with those halcyon days for the national pastime, but there have been 30 clubs for quite a while now and this is just another sign of how fired up fans are to "take me out to the ballpark."
Major League Baseball remains on pace for a fourth consecutive year of record-breaking attendance. Through Saturday's games, 49,999,879 fans had attended games this season at an average of 32,258 fans per game. Attendance through Saturday's games is running 4.4 percent ahead of the total through the same date last season.
Whether or not you are going out to a Major League park, it is more important than ever to follow as much as possible live with MLB.com, and specifically with a subscription to MLB.TV. Just consider the immediate hours and days ahead. You might never have seen a confluence of Major League Baseball history in the making and the taking quite like this. Let MLB.com be your living eyes and ears throughout these proceedings, because you might never see a stretch quite like this again, either. Consider:
Bonds has 754 home runs and needs just one more to tie Hank Aaron for the most hallowed record in all of sports. Bonds plays one more game Sunday in front of his Giants faithful at AT&T Park before leaving on a long trip, and MLB.com is streaming every half-inning in which Bonds bats during the chase.
A record crowd is expected for Sunday's Hall of Fame induction in Cooperstown, N.Y., where Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. will be enshrined in a ceremony scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. ET, weather permitting. MLB.com and baseballhall.org are delivering around-the-clock exclusive content to take you behind the scenes, so that you will feel like you are there even if you couldn't make this Woodstock-like pilgrimage.
A-Rod is one home run away from becoming the youngest player to reach 500. Whether you are a Yankees fan or just a baseball fan looking for history, watch him and the Bombers for the finale of this series at Camden Yards -- as well as watching that Giants game. Already this month, we have seen Frank Thomas hit his 500th homer and Craig Biggio stroke his 3,000th hit on the same day; what are the odds that A-Rod will reach 500 on the same day that Bonds ties and perhaps passes the legendary Hank Aaron? Don't miss it.
Tuesday is the non-waiver trade deadline around Major League Baseball, and there will be rumors flying everywhere and constant analysis on MLB.com, with reports from the only place that blanket-covers the entire sport with a traveling beat writer for every home and road game. The intensity of coverage equals a real-time experience that lives up to fans' expectations, and you expect something bigger every year in this era of the improbable. Streaming every half-inning that Bonds bats? Not exactly something that fans were contemplating in 1974, when Aaron was passing Babe Ruth.
Not only is Tuesday a day for last-minute trade talk, but on that night, Tom Glavine makes his first bid for his 300th career victory. And to make it even more compelling, it could be a postseason preview because the Mets are at Milwaukee, and facing the same Jeff Suppan who helped deny the Mets a World Series appearance last October. That's made for MLB.TV, too. Can the Brewers keep the Cubs at bay in this intriguing NL Central race? Who'd have thought? Brewers holding off Cubs.
Here's something else amazing to chew on while you consider where you'll be for that game: If Glavine, Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux all leave the game after this season, then five years later the Hall of Fame induction class will feature three members of the 300-win club. That would be a first, and it might even trump this weekend.
That's baseball. It never lets you down.
There is history everywhere you look, and the goal at MLB.com is to treat it with historic flare. It's a great weekend to embrace all the bells and whistles of our worldwide pastime, and it's obvious that fans are doing that everywhere. All you have to do is look at the Saturday attendance at the ballparks. It was the most ever. You could look it up.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.