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Americans are stressed out!

In our September 30th national poll, more than 18 months after the pandemic started, 77% of Americans were either as or more stressed despite a majority being vaccinated and COVID infections and deaths dropping nationwide ... Read Now >


Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli is an Associate Editor for Barron’s, The Dow Jones Business and Financial Weekly.  He writes the “Streetwise” column, offering a forward-looking take on the financial markets, illuminating market trends and identifying investment opportunities.

Mike Santoli

Mike Santoli

Mr. Santoli, who joined Barron’s in 1997, is a regular on-air contributor to several cable and broadcast networks. He is a 1992 graduate of Wesleyan University.

4/8: Slow Down You Move Too Fast

By Dr. Lee M. Miringoff

No, this isn’t about the 24/7 cable driven news cycle that is dominating political coverage.  I’ll save that for another day. Instead, this rant focuses on the GOP and how it might weather tough electoral times.

miringoff_headshot_200_300Despite a relatively clear cut electoral outcome in November, D.C. is already waist deep in partisanship. Beltway Democrats and Republicans are travelling down a well-worn path.  Now, I know the party bickering never really subsided.  But, I believe it’s in the Republican self-interest and national interest, as well, for GOP leaders to rise above the fray and give Obama his electoral due.  He was elected to deliver change with a side order of nonpartisanship thrown in.  It seems the GOP would be well-advised to avoid rooting for failure Limbaugh-style, refrain from unanimously opposing stimulus packages, and halt any speculation over the mid-term elections let alone who is likely to be their presidential candidate for 2012… Romney, Palin, Huckabee, Jindal… you name ‘em… does the electorate care, right now?

Reality check.  According to the latest Marist Poll, President Obama has a 56% approval rating nationwide.  Good numbers but not stellar.  The Republican base is as turned off to this new president as are their party leaders.  Only 25% of Republican voters approve of his job performance.  But, a huge number of Democrats and a majority of Independents like him.  As for Capitol Hill, Congressional Democrats are not exactly blazing any new popularity trails.  Only 35% of voters nationwide approve of their job performance.  Yet, even Republican voters divide over how Congressional Republicans are performing.  So, shouldn’t Republicans be reaching out to independents and cross-over Democrats rather than fueling the flames of a shrinking and unhappy base?

Right now, an overwhelming majority of voters, 76%, think President Obama is confronting problems he inherited from President Bush. In this context, just who does GOP criticism of President Obama remind voters of any way?

Now, in the old days, this new president would be still enjoying his honeymoon. Of course, things have changed, but, not everything.  President Obama is still likely to be judged on the economy.  If he succeeds, the GOP is toast.  If he comes up short, then future Republican electoral chances will be enhanced.  So, Republicans:  Quit the carping.   Provide thoughtful policy alternatives.   Be patient.  And, above all, slow down, you’re moving too fast… or else, you just may end up making his moment last.

Lee Miringoff discusses Obama’s latest poll numbers:

Baseball, Steroids, Players, and Pollsters

By John Sparks

Baseball has been rocked in recent years by the steroid scandal.  Most recently it’s been revelations about Alex Rodriguez.  Roger Clemens and his trainer continue to duke it out in court over whether Clemens was injected with the juice.

John Sparks

John Sparks

Since the worlds of baseball players and pollsters both revolve around statistics, it seems quite appropriate that the Marist Poll should find out what fans think about players who do steroids.  Should they be eligible for the Hall of Fame?  What should become of the records they set?  What does the American public consider more important — a ballplayer’s talent or his character?

Confession is good for the soul, so before you read any further, and in the interest of full disclosure, you should know that the pollsters and pundits from Marist are far from objective when it comes to baseball.

Marist Institute for Public Opinion Director Lee Miringoff is a huge fan of the New York Yankees.  As a youngster, he played second base in the Poughkeepsie Little League with teammate Rudy Crew (former New York City Schools Chancellor).   Lee’s father-in-law is Ray Robinson, a renowned baseball writer who is interviewed elsewhere on this web site.

Marist Poll Director Barbara Carvalho, another huge Yankees fan, has never forgiven Mariano Rivera for blowing the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The poll’s Director of Interactive Media Systems Mary Azzoli lives and dies with the Mets, and yours truly named his dog after his favorite ballplayer Yogi Berra.

Ray Robinson believes there have always been good and bad characters who have excelled on the diamond, but he doesn’t think anyone will judge a player on his character if he’s a .150 hitter.  “He may be a nice guy, but he doesn’t belong in the majors.”  And remember what Leo Durocher said:  “Nice guys finish last.”  Isn’t that what it’s all about — not finishing last, but winning it all?  To do that, every ballplayer since Abner Doubleday has been seeking that competitive edge over his opponents and teammates.

Bernard Malamud wrote a novel dealing with ethical issues and baseball.  The central character in The Natural was Roy Hobbs who more than anything else wanted the people to say when he walked down the street:  “There goes Roy Hobbs, the best player there ever was in the game.”  In the book, Hobbs succumbed to temptation and accepted $35,000 to throw a playoff game.  In 1984 Robert Redford played Hobbs on the big screen, but instead of taking the money, he told the bad guys what they could do with it.  I always liked Hollywood’s version, but I’m not so naïve as to believe that our heroes on the field always take the high road.

Robinson’s knowledge of the game spans the better part of a century.  He saw Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig play.  He will tell you Ruth enjoyed his alcohol and that Hack Wilson, who belted 56 home runs for the 1930 Chicago Cubs (a National League record that held until 1998 when Mark McGwire hit 70 and Sammy Sosa knocked out 66), was a “falling down drunk.”  Interesting that many believe both McGwire and Sosa used performance enhancing drugs that year.

Ruth and Hack Wilson are enshrined in Cooperstown.  So where does that leave McGwire and Sosa?  Current sentiment and conventional wisdom seem to indicate they can forget it.

An irony is that sports writers elect players to the Hall of Fame.  Writers in Ruth and Wilson’s days never wrote about their off the field behavior.  In those days they looked the other way and protected them.  It’s a far cry from today’s press.

But, there never really has been objectivity and consistency when it comes to deciding who is elected to the Hall of Fame.  If so, then how can Bill Mazeroski, a lifetime .260 hitter who hit the first walk-off homer to win a World Series, get elected, and Roger Maris, who broke Ruth’s season home run record with 61 in 1961, is not?

On top of that, an asterisk was ordered placed besides Maris’ record by Commissioner Ford Frick who was a former sportswriter and crony of Ruth’s.  After all those years, Frick was still looking after his pal.

Robinson does see some merit in Frick’s decision.  He says that baseball records should be classified into eras — for instance the dead ball era, and the steroid era.

Fine, but how do you decide precisely when one era ends and another begins?  One of my favorite trivia questions is to name the leading home run hitter of the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s.  The trick, of course, is you must relegate players to a specific 10-year period.  Duke Snider, Harmon Killebrew, Willie Stargell, and Mike Schmidt beat out the likes of Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron when you look at it that way.

Bucks and Baseball: An Interview

By John Sparks

Sports Author Ray Robinson discusses the economics of baseball and offers a unique perspective on the history of the game.  Here’s a transcript of Robinson’s interview with The Marist Poll’s John Sparks.

Ray Robinson, author of, "Iron Horse: Lou Gehrig in His Time."

John Sparks
Ray, attendance may have increased for professional baseball last season, but our recent survey indicates that most fans do not think that the cost of a ticket is a good value for their money.  Why do you think that is?

Ray Robinson
I think it is because they’re charging inordinate prices, and the word that I get in talking to some people in and around baseball and other fans is that the price is, certainly here in New York at Yankee Stadium and the new Met field, are just way out of line; and combined with the prices they’re charging for food at these two new baseball palaces, I think you’ve got to be a millionaire to go to these games, and I’m not too sure that there are many millionaires left.

Listen to Part 1 of the interview:

John Sparks
You told me the story of your doorman and his practice of going to the game.  Could you tell me again how many times he goes and what it cost him to take his family?

Ray Robinson
Well, this is a fellow who’s in his 50’s who has two young children in their teens, two boys, who are big baseball fans. They’re Latinos. They’re all Puerto Ricans and very knowledgeable baseball fans.  They love the game. They follow the game. They probably know more about it than most baseball writers, and they used to go as a family two or three times a year as an exhibition and almost like something of a summer vacation; and now this fellow told me only the other day, he thinks he’ll be lucky to go once a year with the two boys and his wife, and he says it’ll cost anywhere between $300 and $400.  You have to remember when you take youngsters to a ball game, they want everything in sight.  So, therefore, you can’t scrimp.  You buy everything from the program to the hotdogs to the beer to the soft drinks to other food delicacies, and it costs an inordinate amount of money, and he said that he’s going to decrease his voyages to the ballpark, in his case the Met Park, from three a year to one.  Now that may be a fairly typical example, I think, in the New York area.

John Sparks
Ray, I’m curious, you followed the game all your life, and we will talk about that in a moment, but I’m just curious how many games you went to last year.

Ray Robinson
Well don’t forget, I’m not the typical example because I’m now what they call a grise eminence, both at the stadium and at Shea – – and the Shea Field, which is now Citi Field.  And I’m lucky enough to be invited to go either by people who work for those two teams or by friends of mine who have tickets. So I can go, you know, I shouldn’t rattle my mouth off.  I don’t pay to go anymore.  I guess if you reach the age of close to 90, they let you get in for free.  But any rate, I think last year I saw about 15 games.

John Sparks
Now you alluded to the fact that we have brand new ballparks for both the Yankees and the Mets.

Ray Robinson

John Sparks
The cost of those tickets has never been higher.  Do you think that these seats and luxury boxes will be filled this season, and who’s going to buy them?

Ray Robinson
As I say, I’m not a mathematician, nor do I work for the front offices of those two clubs. But the word I get from so-called inside people is that the sales are not going well, and so the most expensive seats are not selling, and all you have to do is look at the fact that the Mets and Yankees are advertising in the daily newspapers here to try to get rid of the high priced tickets. That seems to indicate they’re not getting rid of all these seats.

John Sparks
Now you mentioned your age, you’ve been…

Ray Robinson
I’ll be 89.

John Sparks
You’ve been privileged to see a lot of good baseball in your time.

Ray Robinson
My first Major League games, I attended Yankee Stadium in 1928 when I saw some of the great players, Murderer’s Row — Gehrig, Ruth, Herb Pennock, Waite Hoyt, all those great teams.  I was a little too young to the see 1927 team which was supposed to be the greatest team of all time, but I saw the residual members of that team in 1928, and I’ve been going to games both at Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds, Ebbets Field all of my life, and you know, I love the game.  I still do despite all the difficulties of one kind of another they’ve had.  And gosh, you know I – – even though I take exception to some of the cultural behavior of some of these players, I still love the game and I still follow it…

John Sparks

Ray Robinson
…and I write about it of course.

John Sparks
Certainly.  Ray, let’s talk about those days when you did watch Ruth and Gehrig.  What did a ticket cost you back then, and tell me a little bit about the fans that were there at the ballpark?  It was the depression era as I recall.

Ray Robinson
Well, during the depression period, maybe this is a little bit aside from what your question is about, but you know 1930, which was one of the first years of the Great Depression, was actually a fairly good year for baseball, which is ironic in a sense.  However, as the batting averages of ballplayers kept rising, the attendance kept plummeting. I mean, you had some wonderful hitters in those years including the great Ruth and Gehrig, but you had fellows like Chick Hafey, you had fellows like Al Simmons and Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Cochrane and Chuck Klein. Their averages were enormous, but it really didn’t have an impact on the attendance.  Attendance went to the dogs after 1930, and you went to a ballpark, in my case the Giants’ Polo Grounds, and the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field, you always have very modest attendances in those years.  It made for an entirely different ambience at a ballpark, and I have to tell you, some of my old friends like myself who are curmudgeonly characters, I guess like myself, love the ambiance of the ballparks in those years.  They like the idea the ballparks weren’t full and that you could hear the bat hit the ball.  You could hear the conversations between players because of the parks being empty and not full of noise and the distractions of the scoreboard telling you to yell, all those things.  It was a totally different environment, much more quiet and subdued, and to me that was part of the pleasure of going to a game.  It was an escape…

John Sparks
Now the tickets…

Ray Robinson
It was an escape from the noise and the hurly burly of the city.

John Sparks
Now the tickets didn’t cost so much back then either.  What did you pay for a ticket?

Ray Robinson
Oh my.  If I sat in the bleachers, it was 50 cents.  And I invariably sat in the bleachers.  And if I were perhaps lucky enough to get a reserved seat, it was $1.50/2.50., and I… Since I… The only time I ever sat in a box, I had a neighbor, a friend of mine who kind of liked kids like myself.  Let’s say I was 10 or 11-12 years old, I had a neighbor who was friendly with John McGraw, the old manager of the New York Giants, and this neighbor had a box seat, and since my dad wasn’t interested in baseball and never took me to a game since he didn’t like Major League Baseball much, I used to go with this guy, and we’d sit in the box seat.  Maybe it cost 2.50- 3 bucks, around there.

John Sparks
I believe back then besides youngsters like yourself, it was primarily men who went to the ballpark. You rarely saw women.

Ray Robinson
Yeah.  All you have to do for proof of that, if you wanted scientific pictorial proof, take a look at the pictures that have been published over the years of people at early games.  For instance, the opening game of the Yankee Stadium in 1923, you have these panoramic shots of the crowd, you don’t see any women, and the men were all dressed in straw hats, boaters I think they called them, and derbies, and they came with ties on.  Some of them, believe it or not, actually wore vests, and it was almost an all male audience. I think in one picture I recall of the opening of the Yankee Stadium in ’23, the only woman I think I saw in the picture was the wife of the governor who attended the game, Governor Al Smith, the only woman in the whole picture.

John Sparks
So things are different today.  We see women; we see ethnic groups, Latinos.  Is this a conscientious effort on the part of the owners to try to attract a more divergent crowd?

Ray Robinson
Well, I think they have to if they’re going to keep the game alive. Don’t forget, I’m now talking of the New York area.  I’m not speaking about other cities.  In the New York area, you have a tremendous number of wonderful Latino players on both teams, and of course, it makes good business sense and horse sense to try to attract Latinos to the games.  And they will go, and they have gone.  But it seems to me that some of these prices are going to preclude some of them from going.   I mean, I hope I’m not sounding like a Cassandra, but I think both the Yankee front office and the Met front office are aware of these coming problems.  When they built these new ballparks, or when they started to build them, they didn’t have the economy in disarray as it is now.  So therefore, they couldn’t know about these difficulties in attracting various groups to these stadiums.  But my feeling is they’re going to have trouble with some of these groups that are not high income groups. So it makes sense that while they try to attract a lot of Latinos, for instance, to the two ballparks, they’re going to have trouble, and these are fervent knowledgeable fans.

John Sparks
Ray, you mentioned the economic disarray we’re in, and with more folks losing their jobs these days, do you feel there’s even more resentment for the astronomical salaries that some of today’s players are getting?

Ray Robinson
The answer to that would have to be yes. On the other hand, it’s very peculiar to me. I think in a strange way, the salaries made by some of these men, or all of them, most of them, which make many of them millionaires, including .200 hitters by the way, I think that’s one of the… It’s strange to me. I don’t quite comprehend it.  I don’t find any particular great antagonism to the money these guys make, which may sound peculiar; but in a strange way, it becomes another appealing thing. I find a lot of these low-income people, and even myself occasionally, and my friends, who are not particularly low-income people, discussing these salaries as if it’s part of the appeal and charm of the game. It’s a new talking point.  Weird, but it’s the case, I think. It’s not always resentment either.  It’s not like the resentment over the AIG people or Bernie Madoff or that sort of thing. It’s almost an attractive element of the game.  Frankly, a psychiatrist would have to explain it to me.

John Sparks
Ray, during the Great Depression, baseball provided many folks an escape from one’s troubles.  Will it be the same today in this coming season with the economic woes…

Ray Robinson
…Well up to a point, yeah, but we’ve discussed the negatives, so it’s just a question of whether you want to escape enough to empty your bank roll, you know, which is, in a sense, is what we’re talking about here. And sure, it’s a great escape. I noticed already, for instance, if you want some, let’s say, some kind of economic proof that one of the industries doing enormously well right now are motion pictures.  Well it’s a relatively cheap pastime, the same as it was during the Great Depression. I used to go to a movie then for 10 cents and spend five hours in the movie theater, a double bill, a comedy short, Movietone news, coming attractions, you could spend the whole day for 10…15 cents at a neighborhood theater. The prices aren’t that low now, but it’s still within reach.  I mean, senior citizens of New York, movie theaters now pay about 8 or 8 and a half bucks, which is not cheap compared to the Great Depression, but it’s cheap relatively speaking.  So, that’s why I assume many people are now going in for motion pictures as they may conceivably go into baseball, but baseball isn’t making it easy on them with these prices.

John Sparks
Another thing that I seemed to notice is that Major League Baseball has lost its appeal to our youth.  Have we lost a whole generation of fans, and how and why has this happened?

Ray Robinson
Oh, I don’t think so. I think what you’ve… you know, they say a lot of kids now much prefer playing soccer, and they don’t play baseball.  Well, that may be true.  I mean if you read the same figures and statistics and research that I do, we’re dipping in now to Chinese players, to Korean players, to gosh knows Venezuelans, Ecuadorians, Puerto Ricans, et cetera., a wonderful source of talent that may or may not be because the talent isn’t in America anymore. I mean, yes, you have a lot of fine college baseball players, but how many of them are going in for baseball as opposed to professional football, which many good athletes play, as you know many play both of these games, and some athletes also play professional basketball, too.  So, yes indeed, I mean some of the – – probably some of the pool of players is thinning out. I hate to think that, but I think it probably is.

** The views and opinions expressed in this and other interviews found on this site are expressly those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Marist Poll.

Baseball’s Steroid Scandal: An Interview

By John Sparks

In the second part of Ray Robinson’s interview with The Marist Poll’s John Sparks, Sports Author Ray Robinson addresses the current steroid scandal and the views fans have of the players off the field.

Ray Robinson, author of, "Iron Horse: Lou Gehrig in His Time."

John Sparks
The steroid scandals have dominated the headlines. Do you think players like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, and Alex Rodriguez even, and others who have been implicated, do you think these folks will be elected…

Ray Robinson
Well you use the word implicated.  You mean they’ve allegedly been implicated.

John Sparks
Right.  Do you think these folks, because of these allegations, should be elected to the Hall of Fame?

Ray Robinson
I think that that’s a mixed bag. I have the feeling that the — to tell you the truth, that Barry Bonds, who was a great player even before supposedly getting mixed up in steroids, probably would’ve merited being in the Hall of Fame even before he started hitting home runs like bushels of apples. I think it seems to me that recently Mark McGwire, who was always liked by the press, is making noises now that indicate that maybe he’s coming out of his bunker and he would like to be considered for the Hall of Fame.  In the long run, I don’t know. My guess is as good as any other people who are equally poorly informed. I would imagine maybe some of these guys might get in.  I don’t know. It’s a tough call.  It’s a tough call.

John Sparks
Another tough call is whether their record should stand.  Surely you have an opinion about that.

Ray Robinson
Oh, of course, and I think most people who follow the game do.  I think that ultimately the record book should actually be broken down by era, and in that way you can judge a player by the era he was in.  In other words, the Dead Ball Era, the Higher Average Era in the 1930s perhaps, then believe it or not, call it the Steroid Era, and put the statistics in the book in that era, and people can form their own conclusions. I mean this is not an original idea with me.  I’ve heard it from very – – people with a good deal of expertise about baseball that the record book should be divided into eras, and that’s not a bad idea.  Then you can make that judgment based on the era.

John Sparks
Let’s talk about the steroid era.  Who do you think bears a responsibility for the use of the steroids? Is it the players, the union, the managers, the commissioner?

Ray Robinson
Well placing blame, it’s like trying to place the blame for what’s going on in this country with the economy. I mean you know people who really… I mean most people don’t even understand what’s going on, but when you try to place the blame… I see some idiots who are even blaming Barack Obama for the current economy, that sort of thing. But come back to your baseball question, I don’t know. I think if this stuff is available, it’s quite clear that players would take it because it was available, so who can you blame for that other than the athletes who are taking it? I mean nobody was holding a gun to their head. I think they took it because they didn’t want to be left behind. Isn’t that a feeling of a lot of people?  They didn’t want to be placed in an – – in a bad – – I’m sorry, in a bad competitive position with other players. They saw one other guy hitting a lot of home runs, they didn’t want left behind.  Same way with some pitchers who presume they were on steroids. So the business of the blame, I think there’s enough blame to go around; but you know, I’m not wise enough to say who — who should be blamed the most.

John Sparks
I think there have always been problems off the field or even in other eras with stimulants.  Duke Snider told me one time, “They pop greenies in the clubhouse over…”

Ray Robinson
Of course they did, and they were distributed… they were distributed in the clubhouse.  I know Major League players who’ve told me that, very reputable players.  No, they were distributed. But my feeling, or at least my recollection is, at the time, I don’t believe these things were legal or were they?

John Sparks
I don’t recall.

Ray Robinson
You’re talking mainly about amphetamines.

John Sparks
Right.  Did players of those earlier days of the game, did they teach kids mostly good things or bad things do you think?

Ray Robinson
Well, you’re talking about what era?

John Sparks
Well, let’s take the era of Ruth and Gehrig.

Ray Robinson
Well, don’t forget there was a lot of misbehavior by players in those years, heavy drinking, perhaps even more so than now. I mean Babe Ruth was a tremendously heavy drinking guy.  But you know, the press in those years didn’t report these things.  We know in retrospect about the heavy drinking among a lot of players.  For instance, I was once engaged in doing a magazine article about 40-50 years ago taking the worst team a manager would ever want to manage, actually picking one, and it was based on 10 alcoholics, which I knew about after the fact.  In other words, when a lot of… for instance, you remember a player named Hack Wilson who played for the Chicago Cubs?

John Sparks


Ray Robinson
Well Hack Wilson was a falling down drunk, you know, but most people who followed the game in those years were not aware of that because the press didn’t publish these facts, and one of the reasons was a lot of them – – the sportswriters and baseball writers — were very close to the players. They traveled with them on buses.  They traveled with them on trains. They played cards with them. They played pool with them, et cetera, and some of them even roomed with players.  Therefore, they didn’t tell tales out of school.  Today you pick up a newspaper, and you know about the private life of ballplayers you don’t even want to know about. That’s the difference.

John Sparks
And because it’s different today, and I don’t know whether you would put the onus on the writers, the broadcasters, or the players, but do you think that the players and what we read about them and what we know about them today teach kids mostly good or bad things?

Ray Robinson
That’s an individual case thing. I’m sure there are many players today who are very valuable worthwhile human beings and a lot of them make a lot of money, whether it’s under pressure or not I don’t know… do good things, give money to various charities that might be a favorite.  I noticed the other day Carlos Beltrán gave a lot of money to some big Latino charity in his home country, and there are others like that who are very, very generous, whether it’s a personal impetus or whether it’s the public relations thing, I don’t know.  But many of these men that you don’t read too much about because gossip columns aren’t going to tell you that so and so is very generous, that’s not what they like people to hear.  You know I’d say that many players, they do very worthwhile things. I mean it’s a bum rap to think that they’re… all have been — all of these guys are in it just for a lot of money. I think some of them do spread some of the money around in answer to the question.  And don’t forget, in the old days when Babe Ruth made the most money in baseball:  80, 90, 100-thousand bucks–today some of these players make that in one trip to the plate.

John Sparks
Ray, finally, what’s more important to you, a ballplayer’s talent or his character?

Ray Robinson
Well, if a player has talent and character, that’s a perfect combination. That’s a perfect combination. I mean I don’t think many people are going to be willing to judge a player on his character if he’s a .150 hitter. They might say, “Nice guy.  Doesn’t belong in the Majors,” you know.  I mean, I’d like to feel that a guy who plays in the Major Leagues today is a decent citizen, a decent human being. Not all of them are, but that’s the same way with any profession, is it not?  All politicians are not decent human begins, so I mean, why judge players on another level?  I mean, they can’t all be generous with charities. They can’t all be intellectuals. They can’t all be well informed, et cetera, et cetera. They can’t all be decent guys, but I… as far as I’m concerned, I would love to feel that if there’s a player I like and like his talent, I’d like to feel privately within myself that he’s a good person, that’s he a man of character, but I wouldn’t always bet on it.

John Sparks
I hear you.  Ray, I’ve got plenty of material.  Is there anything else that you’d like to add on any of these areas that we’ve been talking with?

Ray Robinson

Well, I — a personal observation about the depression era, and this is sort of funny in a way, you know one of the things when the attendance was plummeting and the baseball economy was a disaster in the Great Depression, owners of many clubs actually considered having balls hit in the stands given back to the ball club. They actually considered doing that.  And today, as you may be aware, you go to a lot of games, players actually sometime — actually take balls and throw them into the stands to give them to the fans.  That’s one indication of a change of times.  Just another little observation, by the way, about the depression, the Great Depression: you know, going back to that time period I was just a little kid, and I remember, and this is just – – this is aside from baseball perhaps, is that veterans of World War I principally out of work, out of luck, out of money, would stand on street corners in the city selling apples for a nickel.  A nickel!  And I actually saw some of these poor characters spit on the apples to shine them to make them more appealing for sales.  I actually saw that!  That’s the Great Depression. I hope we’re not headed for something like that.

John Sparks
I hope not either.  I really appreciate your time this afternoon. I will be back in touch, and it’s always a pleasure talking with you.

Ray Robinson
Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

** The views and opinions expressed in this and other interviews found on this site are expressly those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Marist Poll.

Additional Resources About Hack Wilson

Fouled Away: The Baseball Tragedy of Hack Wilson by Clifton Blue Parker

Baseball Hall of Fame


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The Marist Poll is unique. It was the first college-based survey center in the nation to involve undergraduates in conducting survey research. It’s been over 30 years and still counting. Students participate in each and every survey conducted. Their experiences allow them to weave political science, computing, communications, marketing, and psychology into an interdisciplinary learning experience. Student employment, internships, conferences, and seminars with leading journalists, pollsters and government officials can all be found at MIPO!

The Hancock building at Marist College

What Is Marist College?


Marist is an independent comprehensive liberal arts college with an enrollment of 4,300 full-time undergraduate students from 39 states and 7 countries. Founded in 1929, Marist offers 32 major fields of undergraduate study and 10 graduate degree programs.

Marist is included in the Princeton Review’s guide to the top colleges and universities in the U.S., The Best 368 Colleges, placing Marist in the top 15 percent of all institutions of higher education in the United States. Marist is ranked among the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges guide, is listed by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance as one of the country’s “100 Best Buys in College Education,” and is also listed in Barron’s Best Buys in College Education.

For more information about Marist College, go to www.marist.edu.

An Unlikely Pollster Turned Most Valuable Pollster

baker_mary_290Polling was probably the last thing on Mary Baker’s mind when she transferred to Marist College her Sophomore year.  In fact, her interest in the The Marist Poll grew out of necessity.  She needed an on-campus job.  But, it was only a matter of time before Baker became hooked.

“Speaking with a lot of the respondents made me feel I was a part of the polling process.  I felt a stronger connection…to politics in general,” says Baker.

However, the 21-year old Senior wasn’t satisfied with being an interviewer.  She felt she could do more for The Marist Poll and pursued and received a promotion her Junior year.

“I had polled so many times prior to that I already felt I was a big part of the organization, and I felt I was knowledgeable enough to monitor other students,” she recalls.

Baker’s dedication doesn’t dwindle at the phone room door.  A public relations major with a passion for travel and culture, Baker has acted as a student spokesperson for the poll, appearing on RNN, Cablevision’s “Meet the Leaders,” and WCBS Newsradio 880.

“Mary epitomizes what we look for in a student,” says Marist Poll Director Barbara Carvalho, “She’s bright, dedicated, eager to learn, and always goes the extra mile.”

The benefits, however, flow both ways.  Baker is the first to tell you that her time at The Marist Poll has provided her with invaluable experience that she is confident will take her far in her professional endeavors.

“Working with the Marist Poll, you have to be professional as an interviewer.” Baker goes on to say, “It’s also important to have a good sense of humor and to have the type of personality where you can handle rejection.  I think that’s something you find in the work force every day.”

The Marist Poll does present its own set of unique challenges and surprises.  Baker notes she is often amused by the time people go to bed!  She’s found some respondents often say they are asleep as early as seven o’clock while others are willing to schedule an interview after 10 P.M.  And, of course, there are those who aren’t initially happy to be called at all.

Baker takes it all in stride.  “After awhile, you come up with tactics to keep them on the phone.  If that doesn’t work, you find a way to handle it and move on to the next interview.”

So, what’s next for this Marist Poll MVP?  After graduation, Baker will cross the Atlantic and spend her summer in Galway, Ireland, where she will be working.  Then, it’s back to the states in August when she’ll begin her job search  in New York City.

But, no matter how far Mary Baker travels, one thing is for sure.  She’ll always have fond memories of her time at The Marist Poll.

“To be completely honest,” Baker shares, “I think I will remember most the [MIPO] employees that I worked with and the friendships I formed.”

Watch Mary Baker on Cablevision’s “Meet the Leaders,” Hosted by Terence Michos:

An Educational Laboratory

Marist Poll results may generate worldwide attention, but at its core, it has always been a unique educational program providing Marist College undergraduates an opportunity to develop their skills and understanding of public opinion. By participating in survey research, students learn in an interdisciplinary fashion about politics, communication, psychology, history, marketing, and technology.

Beyond data collection, students take coursework, participate in seminars with outside experts, and pursue internships. In this way, students can look under the hood to gain an advanced understanding of the critical factors shaping public opinion today:

  • Survey methodology… sampling, questionnaire construction, data analysis, and report writing
  • Survey content… the range of contemporary issues that public opinion enlightens from politics and elections to health care, economics, and living in turbulent times.

Coursework at the Marist Institute for Public Opinion focuses on public opinion, survey research, and political communication. There is also a series of one-credit experiences that each deal with a single key aspect of the survey research process… interviewing, the survey instrument, modes of data collection and analysis, and the media. For students interested in pursuing their understanding of survey research in greater depth there’s also a concentration in public opinion. Students who opt to make this rigorous course selection part of their undergraduate program often pursue careers in the field including political consulting, market research, public polling, or academia.

Internships in the media or at survey research facilities, for students in their Junior or Senior year, is a value-added experience. These experiences enhance student awareness of the field, the value choices professionals need to address, and help students clarify career choices.

Students also participate in regular seminars with experts from the world of politics, polling, and the press. Through it all, students emerge with an understanding of what is in essence a contemporary definition of what a liberal arts education is all about… a blend of knowledge, experience, and technology.

Marist polls are newsworthy but Marist College students, first and foremost, enjoy a front row seat in the arena of public opinion. That’s our commitment today just as it was in 1978 when the Marist Poll began as a classroom project.

Speaker’s Forum

There’s always something going on at The Marist Poll, and we’re not just talking about our surveys!

Every semester, a select group of political and media professionals is invited to conduct seminars at the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. It’s all part of our mission to offer our students and other members of the Marist community different perspectives on polling, politics, and the press.

Recent speakers have included:

  • Joel Benenson, Chief Pollster and a Senior Strategist for President Barack Obama and Founding Partner and President of Benenson Strategy Group
  • Ron Brownstein, Editorial Director for the National Journal and Senior Political Analyst for CNN’s election team
  • Jay DeDapper, Political Blogger and Host, Buzz60 Politics
  • Beth Harpaz, Author and Associated Press Editor
  • Joe Lenski, Co-founder and Executive Vice President, Edison Research
  • Steve Thomma, Government and Politics Editor, McClatchy News Service

Stay tuned.  We’ll be updating our list of upcoming speakers as their appearance dates are confirmed.

Our previous guest speakers have included:

  • Robert Bellafiore, Founder, Stanhope Partners
  • Bill Cunningham, Managing Director, Dan Klores Communications
  • Murray Edelman, Former Editorial Director, Voter News Service and Former President of The American Association of Public Opinion Research
  • Howard Fineman, Editorial Director, the Huffington Post Media Group, NBC News Analyst, and author
  • Dan Forman, Managing Editor, WCBS/Ch. 2
  • Steven Greenberg, President, Steven Greenberg Public Relations
  • Jay Townsend, Political Consultant, The Townsend Group