Monday, July 30, 2012

On This Date: League Instability Widespread

July 30, 1897 - The Forum, in their Friday evening edition, published an interesting piece of news from the paper across the river, the Moorhead News. The article highlighted just how unstable the league situation had become by the end of July. Wahpeton-Breckenridge was not the only team in trouble. In recent meetings, re-organization of the league was a topic on the table, but not solely because the W-B franchise was struggling. The News revealed rumors that both Fargo and Grand Forks had withdrawn their forfeit money from the league's coffers. Though this fact was rebuffed by the Moorhead daily, other problems remained for the league. The transfer of the W-B franchise to Crookston was still in question, but a change needed to be made. The current arrangement for the team in the southern Valley was no longer sustainable. W-B had withdrawn their forfeit deposit in order to keep their gates open, but this act of desperation couldn't change the fact that the franchise was failing.

Further trouble was brewing with the Moorhead franchise. The Barmaids were 25-10 and in first-place in the RRVL - in fact, they were the only team even above .500. Despite the franchise's clear superiority, attendance was lagging. In a late-July home contest for Moorhead, those identified as fans of the home team accounted for less than one-fourth of the total gate receipts. The attendance total of Moorhead supporters was regularly matched or outnumbered by the visiting team's fans. Struggling to break even, folding the franchise was not outside the realm of possibilities. Moorhead's Manager Bodkin and other league officials held out hope that a new schedule and a franchise in Crookston would keep them playing in 1897.

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican July 30, 1897 p.4 "Moorhead's Tale of Woe" (citing the Moorhead News)

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