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The Hall of Fame is losing money: is it because they won't let the 'roiders in?

Jul 23, 2010, 2:29 PM EDT

Darren Rovell reports that the Hall of Fame is losing money due to dropping attendance. After reporting — and dismissing — some of the Hall’s own explanations for its financial troubles, Rovell says what he thinks is going on:

But none of those reasons is why the Hall of Fame is suffering.

If the stars, who were caught using PED’s, aren’t being inducted, people aren’t going to show up. It’s that simple.

Look, I’m always near the front of the line to yell at the Hall of Fame and its voters for making silly decisions, but this can’t possibly be the reason, can it? Mark McGwire is really the only Hall of Fame worthy player* who has been kept out due to PEDs. OK, so that’s one induction ceremony a couple of years ago.  All of the others who look to be blackballed — Clemens, Bonds, Sosa, Palmiero — aren’t even eligible yet so their absence cannot be the reason the Hall has suffered.

Not that the Hall has necessarily distinguished itself in terms of its baseball choices in recent years.  I’d like to think that inducting Buck O’Neil like they really friggin’ should have would have made for an amazingly well-attended ceremony. And of course, if Bert Blyleven had been inducted I and literally dozens of my fellow members of the Bert Blyleven Truther’s Brigade would have gone up to Cooperstown to it all go down.

But museum finances are a lot more complicated than that.  The Hall of Fame is a very private and fairly secretive institution and, really, we have no way of knowing the real reasons why it’s having trouble making ends meet these days.

*Spare me the “McGwire wouldn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame even if he was clean” argument. Sure, there’s a statistical case to be made, but if you don’t think the writers wouldn’t have voted him in on the first ballot but for the steroids stuff, you’re dreaming. I’ve yet to believe any actual voter who has cited that as the reason for not voting for him these past couple of years.

  1. Jonny5 - Jul 23, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    Maybe it’s just not that exciting to go see the Hall of Fame? We already know who is in there, and why. We already know what’s there. The HOF is only for the baseball hardcore and that group isn’t growing by much is it? How many times in ones lifetime will you go to see the HOF even if you are a hardcore fan? Once?

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 23, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    Craig, I’m with you. Don’t see Rovell’s logic here. I don’t know why MLB doesn’t kick in some cash here. What is their relationship to the HoF? Does the HoF decline any help from MLB, to maintain the appearance of impropriety and neutrality? Even if the HoF goes under, does anybody really think MLB would allow that to actually happen? It would hurt MLB as much as it would the HoF.

  3. The Common Man - Jul 23, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    I do love the H.O.F., but haven’t been since 2001. And you know why? Because its in The Middle of Nowhere, NY. It’s hard to get to, and there isn’t really enough around it to make it worth visiting unless you’re the hardest of hardcore fans. I happened to be driving back from Maine to the Midwest, so it made a natural stopping point when I went. Plus, 10% of the country is out of work and most of the rest of it is concerned about money, meaning that people are taking fewer and shorter vacations.

  4. Mrsteve - Jul 23, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    Baseball & it’s history. The so called historians are real idiots. If you ever watch World Series highlights & historic games on the MLB Network or ESPN Classics etc. you see how terrible the fielding & hitting really was all the way till the 60’s. Balls barely hit out of the infield. Hits dropped by outfielders & then overthrowing the cutoff man or him dropping the ball. The home runs barely clearing the fence that’s 290 down the line. It’s like watching a bad little league games. The players were also small & out of shape. Even into the 80’s then the players discovered working out. Also people forget but for a long time ground rule doubles were counted as home runs. All the records are tainted in that game so let the steroid era players records stand.

  5. Jason @ IIATMS - Jul 23, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    I, too, love the HOF but as TCM noted above, it’s a long drive from anywhere. I’m just north of NYC and it’s a 3 hour jaunt. Yet, I’ll be up there again one of these years. Promise.
    As for the financial side of it: Aren’t most museums supported generously with private donations from wealthy folks? Doesn’t the HOF have a lot of wealthy folks enshrined in it? Given the value that the HOF designation brings to them, you would imagine that they could donate to the HOF with some of those proceeds?

  6. kountryking - Jul 23, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    I’ll go back to visit the Hall of Fame when Gil Hodges is finally voted in for the great player that he was.

  7. Connecticut Mike - Jul 23, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    I want to echo the common man…..the HOF is not conveniently located for really anybody. Last time I went was 20+ years ago, and I’ve wanted to go back for some time, but there really aren’t even a lot of places to stay up there and there is definitely nothing else to do. At least driving is feasible for me. If you have to fly you have to go into Albany and still drive 1.5 hrs to get there.
    The easiest way for them to increase attendance would be to put the HOF near some major city, which I realize will probably never happen.

  8. RichardInBigD - Jul 23, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    OK, I know a lot of trivial stuff about the game, but I’ve never heard of ground rule doubles being counted as home runs. Craig, can you verify?

  9. RichardInBigD - Jul 23, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    I answered my own question, so nevermind. It’s been a couple of years since something as big as this presented itself to me as new knowledge. I am enlightened anew! Prior to 1930, balls that went over the fence in any way, shape or fashion were a home run! Whoda thunk it?

  10. The Beer Baron - Jul 23, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    Maybe Rovell hasn’t heard the news, but there is a recession going on. All museums are feeling the pinch right now, suffering losses, laying off staff, etc. Couple that with Cooperstown being in the middle of nowhere and its no wonder it is losing money. Put it in Chicago and it will be packed every day…hell, we pack Wrigley every day and there’s nothing to even see there.
    But steroids? Seriously? Maybe its really the Pete Rose lobby — ever think of that?

  11. southside mike - Jul 23, 2010 at 7:10 PM

    Maybe its becasue its in the middle of nowhere. Don’t get me wrong I have been there and Cooperstown is a quaint little town but difficult to get to. Originally thought to be the home of baseball, history has shown that not to be the fact. Move it to a town on the edge of civilization where it is near wxpressways, and whould have some major hotels. Maybe it can grow and become a major tourist spot.

  12. Mrsteve - Jul 23, 2010 at 7:25 PM

    yeah, it gives new light to the 27 Yankees & murderers row & Babe Ruth out homering whole teams. I wonder some times how many of Ruth’s home runs were really ground rule doubles. That’s why when I see those so called experts on ESPN bemoaning Mcgwire in the HOF or Barry Bonds record HR, I am like ground rule doubles used to be HR’s & you guys seem to not even know it & you vote for the players to get into the HOF.

  13. The Common Man - Jul 23, 2010 at 8:38 PM

    There is an absolutely terrible book that answers this question regarding Babe Ruth’s homers: “The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs” by Bill Jenkinson. I’d go back and check, but I don’t have the fortitude. He goes through the accounts of each of Babe’s homers. It’s sycophantic and repetitive, but it does answer the question. “Enjoy” at your own peril.

  14. Mrsteve - Jul 23, 2010 at 9:28 PM

    Oh yeah where he says Ruth would have hit 104 HR’s in 1921 in today’s parks because many of his out to center field went 400-490 feet. Also saying he hit 650 ft HR’s. I think the writers of the 20’s & 30’s may have used poetic writing to make the hits a little more than they really were. Who knows. Ruth was the best hitter ever apparently. Seen a lot of his HR’s on TV. They were hit hard but 650 ft. I don’t know about that.

  15. Paper Lions - Jul 24, 2010 at 9:40 AM

    None of which changes the fact that Ruth out homered most every team some years. Ground rule doubles were HRs for everyone, not just Ruth, and he still hit more HRs than entire teams. If we want to evaluate a player by comparing him to his contemporaries, there simply isn’t any comparison to what Ruth did.

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