Baseball HOF President Says '14 Induction Ceremony Could Break Attendance Record
Baseball HOF President Jeff Idelson said the '14 class of inductees, representing the largest group of living honorees since '71, will help challenge the museum's Induction Weekend attendance record of 82,000, set seven years ago. The HOF on Thursday in N.Y. formally introduced the three players elected by the BBWAA: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. The trio will join previously announced Expansion Era Committee selections Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox. Idelson said, "Expectations are very high. Topping 2007 will be very difficult. But when you think about the big Induction Weekends in years past, years like '07, '99, '83 and so on, this will be right there with them." He added, "These players and managers pull fans from a lot of big, key markets like New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and St. Louis." The HOF last year drew just 2,000 people to Induction Weekend, when the BBWAA elected no one and three honorees from the Pre-Integration Era Committee were long deceased. The HOF on Wednesday said it saw unprecedented spikes in inquires into museum membership, which in part can provide priority seating for Induction Weekend. Membership in the HOF's Presidents Circle and Benefactor levels of giving are up 27% since the Expansion Era selections were announced last month, and continue to grow. Idelson said, "Our phones (Wednesday) were lit up like a Christmas tree. I haven't seen anything like it" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
OUR TOWN: In New York, Denise Richardson notes the Cooperstown Bat Co., which "produces and sells autographed collectible bats, will begin reviewing its product line to include elected inductees and also to reflect the Hall of Fame's 75th anniversary celebration this year." CBC Owner Connie Haney said, "We feel it's going to be a great year for Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame. It's going to have a very positive impact on tourism through the course of the year." Richardson notes the lack of living honorees last year "negatively impacted attendance and local tourism." Cooperstown Cookie Co. Owner & President Tony Zieno said, "Last year was a quiet year, to say the least. This is a bounce-back year for the Hall -- if it's good for the Hall, it's good for Cooperstown" (Oneonta DAILY STAR, 1/10).