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David Brown

Let's play two! Athletics schedule traditional doubleheader in '11

David Brown
Big League Stew

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The Oakland Athletics are bringing back one of baseball's neglected traditions.

The doubleheader.

And we're not talking about the rain makeup, day-night kind, where fans pay two separate admissions, are made to clear the stadium after the final out of Game 1, and then have to kill three hours until the nightcap starts.

That's not your grandfather's doubleheader, which long ago was a staple every Sunday afternoon in every major league town.

This is a real, live "Let's play two" scenario — just like Ernie Banks has been calling for.

I saw this Tweet from A's beat writer Joe Stiglich of the Contra Costa Times casually mention Rickey Henderson bobblehead day in April (which is great) and then:

July 16 doubleheader against vs. the Angels.

For the first time since 1995, the A's have scheduled a doubleheader on purpose!

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As this History of the Doubleheader on Hardball Times explains, the major leagues used to schedule doubleheaders, in part, to boost attendance. Also, back when folks traveled by train, it made sense to pack a couple of games into one day.

Nowadays, it doesn't usually make financial sense to schedule doubleheaders. Attendance is too good across the league. Besides, why cost yourself a gate if you don't have to?

Only, A's attendance is anything but good. They ranked 29th in the league in 2010. They were last in '09 and 27th in '08. They haven't cracked the top 20 since 2005. So why not give folks a two-for-one opportunity, and against their biggest rival, no less?

From the Contra Costa Times:

They've shifted a July 14 (Thursday) game in order to do so. It's the first time the A's have staged a planned doubleheader since 1995. The first game will start at 1:07 p.m. with the second game to follow after a short break.

It's simple but inspired marketing. Here's hoping they pack the Coliseum, and other major league teams follow suit. Considering the concerns MLB has about shortening the season so it doesn't last until Thanksgiving, maybe a few doubleheaders a year would help. Make them special events. Like the good old days.

Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave

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