A FEW MONTHS back, a Wall Street Journal editorial laid blame for the Waco incident and all preceding societal breakdowns wholly at the feet of the year 1968, when student protesters disrupted the Democratic National Convention.
The business daily's argument seemed a bit much to swallow, but now we wonder if maybe '68 marked the end of civility -- if for no other reason than what has happened to the price of programs for major league baseball's All-Star Game.
A poster recently released in conjunction with this year's game in Baltimore shows the program covers for all the All-Star games since the "mid-summer classic" was started in 1933. The first program cost a dime. A few years later, it went to a quarter. Then, from 1948 to 1967, the post-war era when everything about America was said to be good and grand, the price of All-Star Game programs remained at 50 cents. The game clearly was still a pastime, not a marketing bonanza.
In 1968, when the game was held at the Astrodome, Houston's "eighth wonder of the world," the price of the program jumped to a buck -- and all restraint was lost. The price climbed to $2 a few years later, then $2.50, then $3, $4, $5; last year it was $7. This year's program for the game at Oriole Park will cost souvenir hunters $8. So a program whose cost remained the same for nearly 20 years rose 800 percent over the next 25 years.
Blame inflation. Blame the lunacy that the sports collectibles market has become. Blame the yuppification of baseball. Blame 1968.
Just understand that when Baltimore next hosts the All-Star Game, the program might cost as much as the ticket does today.