Outings Without Innings
The Minnesota Twins baseball organization discovered last month that for some students a home baseball game doesn't compete, as an extracurricular treat, with just plain playing hooky.
The team worked out an arrangement with the Minneapolis School District to sell student tickets to the third game of its season at the reduced rate of $3; the district, in return, agreed to allow students to skip afternoon classes to attend.
But the crowd filled only about one-third of the seats in the 55,122-seat domed stadium, and team officials suspected that there were more tickets sold than there were students in the stands.
While the Twins organization offers special days in which students can attend at no charge or at group discounts, it was the first time the team encouraged students to see a game during school hours, according to Don J. Cassidy, director of promotions and special events for the baseball team.
He said he had no evidence, however, that students spent the sunny 89-degree afternoon at a beach rather than at the game. "It was a record 3rd-day-of-the-season crowd," he said.
The game was handled "the same way we handle the Shriner's Circus--it was not a school-sponsored event," according to William C. Phillips, the deputy superintendent of the Minneapolis district.
He said that students were released from school if they showed their tickets. The district allowed students to leave early because baseball is important in the region and gives the young people "a sense of their community," he said.
The Twins sent letters to several hundred superintendents throughout the upper Midwest encouraging them to permit their students to leave early for the game, according to Mr. Cassidy, but no district other than Minneapolis gave approval.
"I think there is a lot of pressure on superintendents to keep kids in school," he said.
The general feeling among superintendents, he said, was that "there is enough free time during the day" without the extracurricular baseball.