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December 10, 2013

HOF ballot offers hope for village shops

By Bera Dunau The Cooperstown Crier
The Daily Star

---- — The unanimous election of Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the hall’s Expansion Era Committee has generated excitement in a number of Cooperstown businesses.

“I think it’s going to be an amazing summer,” said Art Boden, general manager at New York Pizzeria.

Joe Torre is best known for his 12 seasons managing the New York Yankees, where he won four World Series titles. La Russa won a World Series managing the Oakland Athletics in 1989, as well as two with the St. Louis Cardinals. Bobby Cox managed the Atlanta Braves to a 1995 World Series win, as well as 14 straight division titles. All three managers have won over 2,000 games.

The announcement was made Monday. All three men were named on each of the 16 ballots of the Expansion Era Committee’s members, easily clearing the 75 percent threshold needed for election.

Torre, La Russa and Cox will be formerly inducted July 27 on induction weekend, a prospect that has been received as welcome news in Cooperstown’s business community.

“I think it’s going to be a huge business year for Cooperstown this year,” said Danny McCarty, manager at Paterno Brothers Sports.

McCarty thinks that the induction of Torre will bring in crowds from the tri-state area, but he is more excited by the fact that both Torre and Cox are being inducted at the same time, as they were rival managers in the 1990’s.

“Those two together would bring in a lot of business,” said McCarty.

McCarty is also excited that Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, both of whom played for the Braves under Cox, are on the Hall of Fame ballot this year, and he believes the three of them getting inducted in 2014 would draw lots of Braves fans to Cooperstown. He also believes the same thing would happen with Yankees fans if Mike Mussina, who played for the Yankees under Torre and is also on the ballot, were to be inducted.

“I think the success of induction weekend will come with the players and managers combined,” said McCarty.

The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its 2014 class on Jan. 8. Last year, no living player was inducted for the first time since 1996, producing a turnout for induction weekend that many Cooperstown residents found disappointing.

McCarty isn’t the only person excited about the prospect of Cox, Maddux and Glavine being inducted in the same year.

“We here at the chamber have experienced a lot of phone calls from Atlanta fans,” said Patricia Szarpa, executive director of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce.

Szarpa said that the chamber has been receiving calls from Braves fans about reserving rooms in Cooperstown for 2014 induction weekend all of this year.

She also said that having a manager or player from a northeastern team, such as Torre, will increase turnout.

“It definitely does drive up attendance,” said Szarpa, citing the induction of Cal Ripken Jr., which drew tens of thousands to Cooperstown. “The travel factor is huge.”

Szarpa also said that the the chamber was gearing up for the hall’s 75th anniversary, and that she was optimistic about this year’s Hall of Fame ballot.

“I think we’re going to be pulling from a lot of different areas,” said Szarpa.

At New York Pizzeria, Art Boden is also predicting large crowds.

“I think anytime a Yankee is on the ballot you can shut Cooperstown down,” said Boden, noting the prevalence of Yankee’s fans in the area and around the world.

He also expressed excitement for the Braves fans who will come to see Cox’s induction and, he hopes, Maddux’s and Glavine’s.

As for how this will effect New York Pizzeria, Boden said that they normally just get overflow business from the tourists, but that signs were pointing to a very good year.

“Having survived this present year, where nobody came, I think this would be night and day,” said Fred Lemister, owner of Rudy’s Liquor Store.

Lemister also expressed optimism about both Braves fans coming to see Cox’s induction, and Yankees fans coming to see Torre.

“I think you would have to put a ‘Welcome to Georgia’ sign outside the village,” said Lemister, on the prospect of Maddux and Glavine also getting inducted.

He is also bullish about the potential that a large induction weekend has for his business.

“You bring a mess of baseball people into a village, they are not going to sit there and drink Mountain Dew,” said Lemister.

Lemister also praised the candidates themselves.

“We have focused far too long on the cheaters,” said Lemister. “These three people are not cheaters. They’re the real McCoy.”