Induction crowd is second-largest

Julie Lewis | The Daily StarFans cheer Sunday in the audience of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at The Clark Sports Center in the town of Middlefield.

COOPERSTOWN — An estimated 55,000 were in attendance at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s 2019 Induction, surpassing last year’s crowd of 53,000 and ranking second to 2007’s record-breaking 82,000, according to HOF officials.

Visitors hailed from all over the country to witness the induction of Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, Harold Baines and Lee Smith.

License plates representing every state on the east coast lined the streets of the village, some proclaiming their owners’ fandoms with custom tags reading “YANKS98,” “POSADA20” and “CLMNTE.”

Many village residents rented out their driveways and front yards as temporary parking lots, and some provided coolers of water, encouraging passersby to stay hydrated.

The Chestnut Street parking lot charged visitors $42 each in a nod to induction headliner Mariano Rivera.

“Unanimous” was the unofficial theme of the weekend’s festivities, celebrating the record-breaking 100% of votes received by Rivera.

Blue and gray t-shirts commemorating the Yankees legend hung from nearly every tent and table on Main Street. “Enter Sandman,” read the marquee above Seventh Inning Stretch, a sports memorabilia store, with “100% unanimous” on the line below.

In spite of the weekend’s landmark crowd size, many local business owners were underwhelmed by the numbers.

“We’re doing well overall,” said Ronnie Stalzer, owner of the Brain Freeze. “The crowds were a little smaller than we were expecting,” which he attributed to both the weather and the large percentage of fans from New York City visiting just for the day.

Lisa Anderson, an employee at Shoeless Joe’s, shared the sentiment.

“I think we were expecting a larger crowd,” she said. “But it’s a New York name going in.”

“New York Yankees fans already have everything — all the souvenirs they want, except the Hall of Fame patch,” said Richie Bodolato, another employee. “They just come up for the day.”

“They already honored Rivera with a ceremony at Yankees stadium,” Anderson continued. “But we do get a lot of Seattle people. They’ll cross the country to support their players.”

State troopers and Otsego Sheriff’s deputies, who were stationed at nearly every major intersection leading up to the village and along its main thoroughfares, reported a relatively uneventful day.

“It’s been quiet here,” said Carol Bedworth, a communications volunteer with the Cooperstown Fire Department and Emergency Squad.

More than 100 emergency service personnel were set up in triage tents on the field at the Clark Sports Center, but Hall of Fame officials said no major medical emergencies took place during the ceremony.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.