By Greg Klein STAFF WRITER
---- — This year’s Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend will bring more business than a normal weekend, but less than a normal induction weekend. Beyond that, no one seems to have a solid prediction about this weekend’s crowds.
“We’re not sure what to expect,” said Barry Renert, manager of Seventh Inning Stretch. “I would say we are not expecting much.”
With the Baseball Writers Association of America not picking anyone for the 2013 induction and no living inductees being honored, no one is expecting even an average year of 17,500 attendees. But midway through a summer of slow sales — and nearly everyone saying sales are down — any increase in weekend crowds will bring some relief to area merchants.
“We think it will be a bigger weekend than we have had thus far this year,” said Scott Morley, manager of Extra Innings, “but it is not going to be anything like induction weekend last year.”
“It really hurts to have no living inductees,” he continued. “Other years, you could build your inventory around a guy if he was going to be inducted. This year that is just not going to happen. We’ll probably be up 20 to 30 percent over normal, but usually this weekend is 100 percent over normal.”
Still Morley said he is grateful for any kind of big weekend. “On the other hand, it should be better than any other weekend so we’re still excited,” he said.
With paid parking, a lack of parking, the economy and the Furthur concert all competing for their share of local blame, merchants have been nearly unanimous in relating that business is down this summer.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s attendance is steadily decreasing, according to officials. But sitting nearly directly across Main Street from the Hall of Fame gives Morley a vantage point on summer attendance.
“Unofficially, just visually, I would say they are down in attendance,” he said. “If they are down, then usually we are down too.”
Added Renert, “We’ve had days this summer that are more like a typical spring day. Nothing exciting, for sure.”
A lack of enthusiasm won’t keep the merchants from trying. Signs have sprung up along Main Street touting major leaguers who will be doing signings this year.
For example, Pete Rose will l be in town for four days at Safe at Home. Seventh Inning Stretch will have Ozzie Smith. “We’re only having one this year,” Renert said, “normally we’d do two.”
As the Hall of Fame prepares for a non-headline induction — honoring several men who missed having inductions because of World War II, and publicizing posthumous Pre-Integration era inductees like New York Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert — Renert said he questions whether the publicity has been enough.
“I heard through the grapevine they were going to have living Hall of Famers read the inductions for the group that never got inducted,” Renert said. “I think it is great. Cal Ripken reading for Lou Gehrig. But I wonder how anyone will know about it?