For the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers Association of America elected no one to the National Baseball Hall of Fame — raising concern in Cooperstown over how the lack of a major drawing card at the annual Hall of Fame weekend will impact the local economy.
Cooperstown Village Mayor Jeff Katz said he believes local merchants have become nimble enough to avoid a major hit to their bottom line if large crowds fail to turn out for the Hall of Fame event in July.
“It’s true that a great induction is an extra kicker for the summer season,” said Katz. “But I hear from the merchants that it’s no longer a make-or-break weekend for them.”
He added: “It will be a different type of induction, for sure, but I don’t see it as catastrophic from the retail angle.”
He said he expects that Hall of Fame executives will seek to stimulate attendance for Hall of Fame weekend by recruiting some of baseball’s living legends to Cooperstown.
In what was widely seen as a repudiation of baseball’s steroid-stained era, such former heroes of the diamond as Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds all failed to muster the votes needed for enshrinement in Cooperstown. In seven years of being eligible, Mark McGwire, who holds the 10th slot in the list of all-time home run hitters, had his lowest vote total yet from the writers.
“There was no one rooting harder for an elected than we were,” a disappointed Jeff Idelson, the president of the Hall of Fame, said. “We will be looking now for ways to enhance the weekend in ways we normally wouldn’t. We will look for other ways to stimulate the economy.” He said he was not ready to discuss the specifics.