Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dodger Marketing Genius Danny Goodman…His Contributions to the Game

Danny Goodman was a marketing genius who's ideas were way before his time.
He started as a 14 year old hot dog vendor at a minor league ballpark in Milwaukee Wisconsin.  He died 57 year later known as the greatest baseball paraphernalia salesman in the history of the game.  Danny Goodman was quite a personality, and a man that knew how to sell.  You name the trinket, he’d stamp a Dodgers logo on it and sell thousands of them.  

When opportunity knocked, Goodman would cash in with the best of them.  And if you ever wondered who it was that introduced the bobblehead doll to the U.S. market, look at none other than Danny Goodman, who brought the idea to the states over from Japan long before the Dodgers ever played an off-season series there.

He was a man with a thousand ideas and he never stopped them coming up until his death in 1983.  On top of his Dodger Stadium desk sat a marble plaque with the words inscribed “A cluttered desk is a sign of genius,” and the words were the absolute truth in his case.

Goodman claims that he was the person that first sold team caps in the ballpark, long before he was ever with the Dodgers and most likely in his days selling memorabilia in the 30s at Detroit.  Who is here to refute the claim?   Goodman was certainly around at the time.  He also was knee deep in controversy in 1934 during the World Series, as the pies Goodman was peddling in the stands at Briggs Stadium were being thrown at Cardinals outfielder Joe Medwick, who had slid hard into Marv Owen, the Tigers third baseman.  Things got so bad that Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis ordered Goodman to stop selling the confectionary ammunition.

So his life story began in Milwaukee where Danny, the son of Ukranian-Jewish immigrants,  lost his father at a young age and had to support his mother and siblings.  He had the gift of gab and persuasion/  After much persistence, he convinced the Jacobs Brothers concession company that he could sell hot dogs, peanuts and candy at minor league games.  He proved to be a top salesman immediately and within a few years Goodman was in a managerial position and administering to the concession company's needs in several markets simultaneously.

By the mid 30s Goodman had worked his way up the chain with Jacobs Brothers to manage the company’s concession business at various entertainment venues that included circuses, burlesque houses, theatres and major and minor league fields spanning to Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh.  By the late 30s, Jacobs offered him a position in Los Angeles where he managed concessions sales in the entire Pacific Coast  and Pioneer Leagues stretching from California to Washington state where he served in the position as Concessions Manager and Advertising Director.

He started the Hollywood Stars celebrity game with the PCL Hollywood Stars team at Gilmore Field, a tradition that continues to this day with the Dodgers.  He hob-nobbed with actors and actresses and had them pose in photos with his memorabilia that he would easily sell with free advertising from a movie stars appeal.  Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Bing Crosby, Jayne Mansfield, George Burns, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Cecil B. DeMille and George Raft were regulars at the stadium and Goodman would cater to their every need.  
Hollywood stars game was originated by Goodman back in the 1940s.  In these Dodger Stadium photos are inlcuded such actors as Jackie Gleason, Jack Lemmon and Dean Martin.

An early riser that was engaged in the entertainment industry heavily.  Goodman served as the Friars Club entertainment chairman in Beverly Hills from the mid 40s through the arrival of the Dodgers in Los Angeles in 1958.  At that time, his emplyment was rather tenouous as Walter O’Malley was bringing his administration from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and the PCL was a dying league.  But Bob Hunter of the Los Angeles Examiner put him and Walter O’Malley in contact and Goodman in the course of a phone conversation was hired on the spot by the Dodger owner.  He was that persuasive and amiable.  O’Malley later told Hunter, “That was a great thing you did that day.”  Goodman would make O'Malley millions of dollars over the next few decades, and in the course of that, the Dodger brand was marketed world-wide.

There are baseball traditions that exist today because of Goodman.  Did you ever wonder why grounds crews drag the infield in the middle of games?  It was Goodman who ordered it at Hollywood Stars games to slow down the action of games going too quickly.  This would allow concession sales to increase during respites in the action.  

Other items that were introduced by Goodman.  
1) Insistence that food at ballparks be on par with restaurants.  While with the Hollywood Stars, his hot dogs and hamburgers were of top notch quality and recognized as such.  
2) The first team to wear shorts as their official uniform.  (Hollywood Stars, 1950).  
3) The bobblehead doll at Gilmore Field, a chubby player with rotund cheeks and a smile.  He had no idea that they’d catch on as they have in the past 20 years, but by the 60s, all major league teams had designs of the dolls with their uniforms.  
4) Using celebrities to fill the stadium.  Goodman utilized his Hollywood connections to successfully market the teams he worked for.  It was Walter O’Malley that said “If half his friends show up, we’ll sell out every game.”  Goodman was roasted at a celebrity dinner by Ronald Reagan and Jack Benny years before the Dodgers ever arrived in Los Angeles.  Goodman, was a king of malaprops, much as Yogi Berra was.  It was reported that when asked if he could get Hollywood celebrities to show up for a game, he said, "I'll give you stars you've never heard of."  
5) The establishment of permanent novelty stands at ballparks.  Goodman predicted that one day Major League Ballparks would have active retail stores within stadiums to sell concessions.  This was 40 years before it actually would happen.  
6) Mail Order concessions.   Goodman organized this multi-million dollar enterprise that became MLBs model that continues to this day. 
7) Goodman was the first to persuade department stores to carry Dodger merchandise and apparel.  This started in 1959 with Sears and Roebuck.
Danny Goodman provided replica Dodger satin jackets for sale.  A very popular item among Dodger fans.

In Goodman’s first year with the Dodgers, concession sales by the Dodgers alone surpassed every other team in the league combined.   And that was from sales at the ballpark alone. Piggy banks, ties, scarves, dozens of different types of hats, pajamas, pillow cases, cigarette lighters, key chains, jackets, bracelets, bandannas, binoculars, airplane models of the Dodger plane, money clips.  Wallets, purses, Pins, dolls, plastic bugles, and assorted types of bats, balls and helmets.  You name the item.  If Goodman could put a Dodger logo on it or an interlocking L.A. on it, it would be for sale.

With the Dodgers playing three World Series games at the Coliseum in 1959, Goodman was aware that the sun would burst through and hit 90,000 plus fans  in the face at a certain time of day and no shade would be present to protect them.  He was ready to sell Dodger logo straw hats at just the right time.  Over 160,000 were snatched up by fans at $2 a piece.  That was $320,000 in sales, a hefty chunk of change in those days.

As a kid, I became familiar with Goodman through Dodger promotions that would be advertised during games.  It was every kids dream for their parents to shell out the $10 or $12 bucks to buy those trinkets that included a t-shirt, cap, ball with the logo and cards.  We all wanted his stuff.  

Those desires continue today, as Goodman's trinkets sell on eBay for substantial prices because they bring back our childhood memories.  A time when the game was much more innocent and we would walk into the Coliseum or a fresh new Dodger Stadium and let the game sink into our senses full force.  Often times those memories we'd take home with us via a Danny Goodman souvenir item.  Those memories continue today, with the tangible artifact that we bought so long ago.  Thanks to Danny for that.  He was truly a baseball pioneer and perhaps worthy of Hall of Fame recognition for that.

4 comments:

  1. Great post!

    So, Goodman is the reason I'm so addicted to collecting Dodgers memorabilia!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ernest, I think that's a pretty accurate statement for both you and me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great article Evan. I bit of history I never knew of. Now I have someone to blame for that over cluttered Dodger room in my hoiuse !!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post . It takes me almost half an hour to read the whole post. Definitely this one of the informative and useful post to me. Thanks for the share.retail marketingExponents is a worldwide company .This means you can leverage our resources from around the world to help your company go global.

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