SBJ/May 13-19, 2013/Media

Scouting reports an online phenom for Cooperstown

The National Baseball Hall of Fame has generated a significant groundswell of digital traffic and publicity from its recent online release of scouting reports for more than 12,000 current and former big league players.

The project is part of “Diamond Mines,” a new exhibit developed with the aid of the Scout of the Year Foundation and the Society of American Baseball Research. The exhibit gives an extensive look at the often-overlooked life of baseball scouts and insight into how scouting reports are developed.

The museum piece has been supplemented by an online database, scouts.baseballhall.org, that has given “Diamond Mines” a life far beyond the hall’s Cooperstown, N.Y., home. In addition to the traffic generated in the site’s first week of public availability, media pickups have included prominent mentions in ESPN, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo, USA Today, Deadspin, Bleacher Report and Sporting News (a sister company of SportsBusiness Journal), among many others.

Traffic to the scouting database has surpassed 65,000 daily page views in the initial week. The figure is roughly five times the typical daily traffic to the hall’s main website, baseballhall.org, at this time of year and is higher than any other point outside of the voting and induction of new members.

“This has quickly become an incredible success,” said Brad Horn, the hall’s senior director of communications and education. “This is a topic that really resonates with fans, and completely reinforces our ongoing digitization efforts and providing universal access to firsthand historical content.”

Among the most discussed scouting reports are ones for former two-sport star Bo Jackson, who was branded in 1985 by a scout as “the best pure athlete in America today,” and another for Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, who initially was dismissed as merely a fringe prospect “wanting too much money for the amount of ability he has shown.”

The “Diamond Mines” project represents part of a multiyear effort by the hall to digitize its vast collection of artifacts, documents, photographs, and audio and video. The process is aided in part by Massachusetts technology firm EMC Corp. The database and the heightened fan attention it has generated are being eyed as potential indirect boosts to revenue sources including membership and museum attendance.

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