League of Fans

Founded by Ralph Nader, League of Fans is a sports reform project working to improve sports by increasing awareness of the sports industry's relationship to society, exposing irresponsible business practices, ensuring accountability to fans, and encouraging the industry to contribute to societal well-being.

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Ralph Nader and League of Fans urge Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig not to put ads on baseball uniforms

In response to Major League Baseball's placement of advertising on baseball uniforms for this season's opening series and to the possibility that advertising on uniforms will become permanent, Ralph Nader and the sports reform project League of Fans sent the following letter to Commissioner Selig.


Allan H. "Bud" Selig
Major League Baseball
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10167

Dear Mr. Selig:

The great lengths of selfishness with which you are willing to go to desecrate baseball and alienate fans of the game should no longer surprise us. Still, your placement of advertisements on the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays uniforms for Major League Baseballís opener on March 30 in Tokyo ambushed fans across the country and left them shaking their heads at this obscene embarrassment.

We urge that you immediately put this issue to rest once and for all and eliminate any current or future possibility that Major League Baseball will accept advertisements on uniforms.

You are suffocating Baseballís fan base. Itís not enough for fans who want to enjoy a game to be forced to watch this pitch sponsored by that company or that home run sponsored by this corporation. In addition, they go to a stadium paid for by the fans and taxpayers, yet almost every available space is filled with ads and named after some multinational corporation with no ties to the community.

Over the last several years, fans have been made to watch ìvirtual advertisingî infiltrate television broadcasts, and T.V. commentators using the broadcast booth to hawk cell phones during the playoffs and World Series. This over-commercialization is sapping the fun out of being a fan of Major League Baseball.

Now, you have sunk to a greedy new low. Bending Baseball to the demands of advertisers and accepting more than $10 million (according to Advertising Age) for a corporation to plaster ads on the uniforms for the two-game series in Tokyo. Itís supposedly a one-time deal, but conventional wisdom says otherwise -- that permanent advertising on uniforms isnít a question of ìif,î but ìwhen.î

MLB executive vice president for business Tim Brosnan, told reporters in Japan ìAre there any definitive plans to put logos on uniforms? No. I donít see that happening. But on the other side of the coin, never say never.î

ìWeíre mindful of the fans, but I donít think [advertising on uniforms] is unreasonable,î Brosnan later told the New York Post. ìWeíre always looking for new ways to advance our business.î

That must sound reassuring to fans. The public tolerates a certain amount of commercialism, but why do you insist on trying the patience of loyal baseball fans across the country? We already have NASCAR, with drivers doubling as walking commercial billboards. Is that really what you want for the national pastime?

Commissioner Selig, no one is trying to get in the way of your ability to make money, but you need to look beyond the immediate bottom line to make Major League Baseball sustainable. As primary caretaker, this means your job is to respect cities and fans, ensure the integrity of the game, and eliminate self-interested and destructive tendencies. Advertising on uniforms runs counter to each of these critical principles.

If you allow such an explicit interference of baseball with another greedy vehicle for corporate marketing -- using player uniforms as product placement surfaces -- apathy is not what you should expect from fans and sportswriters. There will be considerable resentment, and fans will drift away. A matter of taste can sour more quickly than you think.


Ralph Nader
P.O. Box 19312
Washington, DC 20036

Shawn McCarthy
League of Fans
P.O. Box 19367
Washington, DC 20036


Take Action!

Contact Bud Selig and urge him not to put ads on baseball uniforms.

Allan H. ìBudî Selig
Major League Baseball
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10167
tel (212) 931-7800
fax (212) 949-8636


"Nader upset over uniform ads," Associated Press, May 4, 2004. (action)

"Ralph Nader and League of Fans Urge Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig Not to Put Ads on Baseball Uniforms," NYC Indymedia Center, May 4, 2004. (action)