Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Drug scandal throws baseball's Hall of Fame another strike

  • Print

In 1903, a skeptical English-born journalist suggested baseball was a form of rounders, a British children's game. (Isn't it? many Britons would still ask.) An investigative commission was set up, which found in 1839, Abner Doubleday invented the game in Cooperstown, a village in upstate New York 300 kilometres from Manhattan. A well-battered ball found in a farmhouse attic in 1934 cemented the legend, though historians were doubtful. Soon afterwards, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and a museum opened in Cooperstown.

The place evokes nostalgia for a time that never really existed. Main Street, with its single traffic light, has a Hardball Cafe and quaint shops called Seventh Inning Stretch and Line Drives and Lipstick. Several sell baseball memorabilia, such as vintage cigarette cards and valuable autographs. Children in Little Leagues play on Doubleday Field, a small ballpark that has also hosted games played by professional greats. Almost everyone strolling along Main Street wears baseball T-shirts, some commemorating long-gone Negro League teams.

The Hall of Fame holds an annual induction ceremony where the sport's greats are honoured. This year, for the first time since 1965, no living player was enshrined. Several retired players with especially impressive (albeit questionable) playing records, such as Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, were eligible for entry. Many, however, were suspected or confirmed steroid users. The hall's voters, all sports writers, clearly thought cheats should not be celebrated.

Which is all well and good, but inductee weekend is a big moneymaker for the hall and the village shops. In 2007, when Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn, two baseball legends, were honoured, 80,000 people descended on Cooperstown. Crowds of 10,000 to 25,000 are routine. This year, the turnout was a paltry 2,500. Shop owners, and the mayor, are hoping it was just a blip -- and that things will improve next year, when a strong, not to mention clean, group of players will be eligible. But they are still worried. Attendance at the Hall of Fame has been falling: In 2008, there were 301,755 visitors, last year 262,816 came. Drugs are still affecting the game. On Aug. 5, Major League Baseball handed down suspensions to a dozen players for use of performance-enhancing drugs. Most were suspended for 50 games. Alex Rodriguez, once considered a future Hall of Famer, was suspended for 211 games. He has not admitted wrongdoing and may play while he appeals against the decision. But he is unlikely to be venerated in Cooperstown.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 13, 2013 A7

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - Take It Easy

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Geese fight as a male defends his nesting site at the duck pond at St Vital Park Thursday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 08- May 10, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A young goose gobbles up grass at Fort Whyte Alive Monday morning- Young goslings are starting to show the markings of a adult geese-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 20– June 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you like Gord Steeves’ idea to sell four city-owned golf courses to fund road renewal?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google