By Jaded Roberts
Special from The Garlic Times
“We had no choice,” Claire Boyd, mayor of Cooperstown said. “The best interests of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Cooperstown are one in the same. And if the fans don’t come here, the merchants might as well pack up and go somewhere else.”
The Cooperstown town council held a special meeting last night to discuss the future of the tiny hamlet in central New York. Ever since 1939, when the first five players -- Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson – were tabbed for immortality, baseball fans have flocked to the mythical birthplace of baseball to see their favorite players and the greats inside the hallowed halls on Main Street.
The Hall of Fame has seen ups and downs in attendance before, but a chart shown at the meeting showed a worrisome drop in attendance at the Hall of Fame the last few years. Projections for the coming years showed more falling numbers.
Boyd summed up the problem. “The writers have sent a clear signal. They are not going to vote for players linked to the doping scandals.”
The council unanimously approved a measure that would ask the National Baseball Hall of Fame to establish a new wing for the players who have been voted down by the writers. An internal Hall of Fame committee would select players based solely on their statistics.
“Baseball has all these great measurements now,” Boyd said. “They could use WAR and the like to tab the greats.”
Boyd handed me a list of players with their corresponding WAR.
She pointed to it and said, “Bonds 162, Clemens 139, ARod 115. As we say here in the Chamber of Commerce -- big numbers, big money.”
The concern and worry are real in Cooperstown, a town of just one stoplight and 1,840 inhabitants.
Asked about their chances of getting the Hall of Fame to go for the idea, Buck Green, owner of a restaurant, said, “I’m not sure, but you have to remember the Hall was founded by a man who owned a hotel here. The whole thing was about drawing in tourists. The Great Depression and Prohibition hurt folks here real bad.”
After the meeting adjourned, Boyd made one final comment.
“The Hall,” she said, “helped me put my two kids through college. I’d like to work ten more years and then retire comfortably. If the fans stop coming here, my dreams and this town are in big trouble.”