The Cooperstown economy is cheering for Jim Rice right now.
The Boston Red Sox outfielder got into the Baseball Hall of Fame on his 15th and final try today, along with stolen base king Rickey Henderson.
Why does the New York town that is home to the Hall of Fame care more for a Red Sox player than a man who once played for the Yankees? Well, it’s because Rice will bring more people than Henderson would.
The Hall of Fame, for most people, is in the middle of nowhere. That means that you really have to feel like you have a relationship with the star to spend the weekend there. The most successful draws then are players who play their entire careers with a single team.
Sure, Henderson had a nice run with the A’s (more than 12 seasons), but Rice spent his entire 16-season career at Fenway Park.
The fact that Goose Gossage is most identified with the Yankees certainly was a contributing factor the Hall of Fame drawing over 300,000 fans for the 11th straight year in 2008. But it wasn’t as good as the year before when you had two lifers – Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn – get inducted.
Looking at the list of players who could be inducted in the future, not only are you seeing fewer players who spent their entire careers with one team, you’re seeing a hole of about five years or so where, for the most part, we have totally unmarketable players up on the ballot. This is the reality thanks to discounting the statistics and the merits of the alleged performance-enhancing players like Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens.
Who are you looking forward to? Roberto Alomar? Fred McGriff? Maybe Jeff Bagwell? Hard to say any of those guys are going to bring out the masses.
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