It's a ways off before the official Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in the summer of 2014, but the price tag associated with electees Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre already went up. The baseball manager trio on Dec. 9 was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Expansion Era Committee. The news immediately places a higher "for hire" rate on the legendary managers and is also a welcome sign for Cooperstown, N.Y.
It's tough to ignore the impact that the Baseball Hall of Fame has on Cooperstown's economy. Obviously, not all baseball legends are still with us, but it's far better for Cooperstown if the honorees are actually able to attend their induction. Last year, while the industry was dealing with the fallout from steroid abuses, the town dealt with what amounts to its worst-case scenario.
In 2012, the posthumous honors went to Hank O'Day, Jacob Ruppert, and Deacon White. It was the first time since before Woodstock that there wasn't a living inductee on the panel and there were financial consequences to that.
The ceremony was ill-attended, drawing a crowd of some 2,500 people compared to an average showing of as many as 25,000 attendees and far below the 80,000 people who showed up when Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn were immortalized a few years ago. That wasn't good for businesses for whom the annual ceremony rivals only the holidays.
"People are not happy about it. It's not good for baseball, it's not good for the fans, it's not good for the store owners here. What else can I say? It's not going to be a good summer for us," said baseball merchant Barry Renert in a 2012 interview on the 90.0 wbur website.
The tide has since turned, and Torre, who managed in both the Bronx (Yankees) and the Queens (Mets) boroughs, will resonate with New Yorkers. All three famed managers, representing cities from Atlanta to Chicago to St. Louis, are certain to draw large crowds.
Playing the field
And it's going to be a sizable benefit for LaRussa, Cox, and Torre as well. Besides the honor that must undoubtedly be associated with having a place in the Hall of Fame, each member on that panel just saw their price tag go up.
|Tony LaRussa||$30 mil|
|Bobby Cox||$45 mil|
|Joe Torre||$60 mil|
If their retirement wasn't secure before, it is now. Once inducted, the panel is entitled to a very exclusive set of perks. They'll earn 30% of Baseball Hall of Fame merchandise sales and will fetch higher paychecks just for showing up.
Before his induction into the Hall of Fame, Goose Gossage was pulling in about $10,000 for each speaking engagement. After earning a spot in baseball immortality in 2008, however, that fee grew threefold, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Not to mention the fact that the value of a John Hancock by a Hall of Famer increases. Although the jump differs from player to player, there will be some premium attached to their autographs now that LaRussa, Cox, and Torre are headed for the Hall. After all, they are now immortal.
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