Hall of Fame Weekend 2013: Day Two

For the second straight day, picture perfect weather and decent crowds highlighted the proceedings in Cooperstown for Hall of Fame Weekend. On the surface, all looked well.

With temperatures again in the 70s, low humidity, and enough of a breeze to make it feel almost like early fall, all should be right in Cooperstown. But there is an underlying sense of discontent that can be felt and heard from the village merchants, and it’s not so much with the lack of living inductees. Yes, there’s some frustration coming from the merchants on that issue, but there is downright anger with the village administration about the state of Cooperstown in general.

The anger is being felt on multiple counts. The implementation of paid parking on Main and Pioneer streets has been met with fury, with many of the merchants claiming that it has discouraged many customers from coming into the village. Endless construction on Chestnut Street, which has been going on since the early spring, has made it difficult for people wanting to come to Cooperstown from places like Hartwick, Milford and Oneonta.

And then there was the recent controversial concert at Doubleday Field, featuring the Grateful Dead revival band, Furthur. (Yes, that’s how the band’s name is spelled.) The concert brought in heavy use of illegal drugs, ranging from marijuana to cocaine and LSD, while also allowing the so-called “Shakedown Street” vendors to sell alcohol and other products without proper permits.

It is amid this backdrop of anger that Hall of Fame Weekend is taking place. Some merchants are hoping that the induction will bring some much-needed cash to town, but a negative impact is already being felt at the autograph shows. Business is down at the signings, with lines looking shorter than they have in years. That is great for fans who don’t want to wait long for their autographs, but a bad sign for promoters who have paid out large guarantees to Hall of Famers and other retired players. Money figures to be lost.

On the bright side, Hall of Fame Weekend still has two more days of activity. If the good weather holds up, perhaps some of the economic losses can be minimized.

News and notes: Ozzie Smith’s “Play Ball” event on Friday has raised $5,000 for the Hall of Fame’s educational programs. As a museum teacher in Cooperstown, I will gladly add my thanks to “The Wizard.”… Let’s add Tommy John to the list of notables who will be in town for the weekend. The 288-game winner will attend Saturday’s Awards Presentation, where Dr. Frank Jobe will be honored as the pioneer of “Tommy John surgery.” After missing part of the 1974 season and all of 1975 because of the radical surgery that saw a ligament from his leg transplanted onto his left arm, John returned to the Dodgers in 1976 and remained in the major leagues until 1989… Another honoree on Saturday will be Thomas Tull, whose company produced the critically acclaimed film, 42. The Saturday Awards Presentation will be emceed by Greg Amsinger of the MLB Network.

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Bruce Markusen is the manager of Digital and Outreach Learning at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He has authored seven baseball books, including biographies of Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and Ted Williams, and A Baseball Dynasty: Charlie Finley’s Swingin’ A’s, which was awarded SABR's Seymour Medal.

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