It was not surprising to see such a small crowd for Induction Weekend, as there was much skepticism leading to what is typically the busiest weekend in Cooperstown.
It was a lackluster year, to say the least. The National Baseball Hall of Fame reported an attendance figure of about 2,500 for the ceremony, which was held up by rain Sunday afternoon. It also marked the first time since 1996 the Baseball Writers Association of America elected no one.
According to merchants, it seemed like it was the regular diehard baseball fans that made the journey for an induction that did not include any living people.
Cooperstown Bat Company Co-owner Connie Haney said, “Overall, it has been business as usual for us. We’ve had some of our regulars, who come in every year, come back this year, so we are happy to see them.”
Extra Innings, manager Scott Morley said he recognized many regular visitors.
“The people you expected to see, you saw,” he said. “The diehards you see every year came back this year.
No merchants said business was up from last year when 17,500 fans attended the induction of Barry Larkin and Ron Santo.
Brian Paterno of Paterno Brothers Sports called the weekend a “disaster,” and claimed his shop was no busier than on a normal weekend.
Paterno said he blamed the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for not giving any current candidates the needed 75 percent of the vote for induction.
“These reporters think they are above everybody else by submitting empty ballots, when they should have put guys like Biggio and (Mike) Piazza in this year,” he said. “If you only have three guys to induct who are all dead, what do you expect?”
Clearly no one expected a year like 2007, when Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn brought about 75,000 fans. That was the biggest ever! However, we do agree with Sarah Mower, manager of Mickey’s Place, who believes there will be some exciting inductions in the near future.
With Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas on the ballot for the first time next year, and Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey, Jr. as first timers in 2015 and 2016 respectively, some headline years are looming for the Hall of Fame.
And since New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera is retiring this year and Derek Jeter is nearing retirement, Mower said she thinks there may even be a record-breaking crowd in the next decade. Rivera’s chances of being inducted in 2019 is as close to a sure thing as the Hall of Fame will ever get.
Sure, this weekend might have stunk for business in Cooperstown. However, perhaps baseball should celebrate — as it may be the last Cooperstown weekend of innocence. The Hall of Fame voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America stood up for integrity. Although they were presented with a star-studded Hall of Fame ballot, they kept those connected with steroid use out for at least one year. Will it be possible forever? probably not.
Being a member of the Hall of Fame should be considered an ultimate honor and it should not be easy to become a member of such an elite group. Although we would love to see local businesses prosper, that is not what the Hall of Fame Induction is all about.