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The New York Yankees are the most popular baseball team in the US for the eighth straight year, according to the results of a new Harris Poll.

Yankees Favored Again
Among those who follow baseball, the reigning World Series champion New York Yankees again win the honor of “America’s Favorite,” as they have each year since 2003. In the second spot on the list are their long time arch-rivals, the Boston Red Sox, followed by the Atlanta Braves at number three; both of these teams’ positions are unchanged from last year.

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Rounding out the top five are the 2008 World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies at number four, rising from seventh place last year, and the Chicago Cubs, who have not won a World Series since 1908 but have an extremely loyal fan base, at number five.

Looking at the bottom half of the top 10 favorite baseball teams, at number six are the New York Mets, up from number 11 last year; the San Francisco Giants (#7, up from #9); the Los Angeles Dodgers (#8, down from a tie at #4); the Minnesota Twins (#9, up from #13); and the St. Louis Cardinals (#10, down from #6).

Three teams have made large moves on this year’s list. Moving up 10 spots, from #29 last year to #19 this year, are the Kansas City Royals. Also making a large move upwards are the Cleveland Indians who went up eight spots, from a tie for #25 to #17. In the opposite direction, the Houston Astros dropped nine spots, moving from #19 to #28.

Men, African-Americans, Easterners Follow Baseball
More than one-third of Americans (36%) say they follow Major League Baseball, a number that is down from last year, when 41% said they followed baseball. Another 40% said so in 2008.

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Looking at who follows baseball, men are more likely to do so than women (46% compared to 27%). Also African-Americans are more likely to be followers of the sport, compared to both whites and Hispanics (41% compared to 36% and 34%, comparatively).

There is also a regional divide, as almost half of Easterners (48%) say they follow baseball, compared to one-third of Westerners (34%) and 29% of Southerners.

Matures Less Likely to Follow Baseball
Despite baseball’s reputation as a slower-paced game steeped in nostalgia, Matures (ages 65 and older) are the least likely to say they follow baseball (30%). Generation X members (ages 34-45) are most likely to follow baseball (39%), followed by Echo Boomers (ages 18-33, 38%) and Baby Boomers (ages 46-64, 36%).

Affluent, Educated Follow Baseball
In one piece of good news for marketers targeting a baseball audience, its followers tend to be affluent and educated. Forty-five percent of those earning a household income of $75,000 or more follow baseball, compared to 27% of those earning a household income of less than $35,000. Similarly, 48% of post-graduate degree holders follow baseball, compared to 29% of those with a high school education or less.

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Baseball Popular Spring Web Search Category
Compete‘s “Baseball” category was among the month’s top web search movers in March 2010 with 7,513,832 unique visitors, a 43.7% increase from February 2010. Mlb.com led this category with a total of 6,786.134 unique visitors, earning the site the number three spot on Compete’s list of the month’s top-moving sites.

The greatest rivalry in baseball, Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees, showed no signs of cooling off in March 2010. The Sox’s online home, boston.redsox.mlb.com, was the highest trafficked Major League Baseball team site for the month with a total of 638,257 unique visitors, closely followed by newyork.yankees.mlb.com with 626,636 unique visitors.

Midwestern baseball fans were responsible for the most dramatic traffic increase at the MLB.com subdomain level, however. As the Minnesota Twins prepared to open the season in their new stadium, traffic to minnesota.twins.mlb.com soared to 348,975 unique visitors, representing a 73.9% month-over-month increase and a 70.78% uptick from March 2009. Chicago.cubs.mlb.com (494,882 unique visitors), philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com (387,972 unique visitors) and losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com (356,701 unique visitors) all also experienced strong month-over-month gains.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the US June 14-21, 2010 among 2,227 adults (aged 18 and older), of whom 803 follow major league baseball. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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