While Derek Jeter and Larry Walker were enshrined in Cooperstown earlier this week, MLB missed another opportunity to grow the game of baseball. What should have been one of baseball’s most exciting days, instead passed by with fans at work or school, unable to watch the ceremony.
What should be one of baseball’s crowning moments instead leaves much to be desired.
Revamping the Hall of Fame Ceremony
Getting inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame is one of the hardest things to accomplish. In the history of the sport, almost 20,000 players have made it to MLB while only 333 have a plaque in Cooperstown. Being one of the approximately 1.5% best in the game should be recognized as an incredible achievement.
Date and Time
This year, MLB’s Hall of Fame ceremony took place on a Wednesday afternoon with coverage starting at 1:30 P.M. EST. For many, school and work took priority and they had to watch videos on YouTube or Twitter to see the day’s festivities. While many will be in attendance, parents of young fans, who have just started their school years, will probably be hesitant to pull their children from class to attend the event. Meanwhile, a random Wednesday in September doesn’t really scream prime time for baseball. Instead of focusing on MLB, most sports shows were more focused on the NFL season starting the next day. While switching dates due to the COVID-19 pandemic was likely the right call, keeping the early time slot made it very difficult for working fans to watch.
While the Hall of Fame inductions will switch back to their usual Sunday afternoons in July next year, the ceremony will have to compete with a traditional slate of MLB games. Also, being only one week after the All-Star Game may be overloading baseball’s most important moments to one point in the season.
Instead, MLB would be wise to move the ceremony to a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday to allow fans to actually be home to watch. Furthermore, the ceremony should be moved up a few weeks to early or mid-August, allowing the sports news cycles to focus exclusively on baseball while having some space between the All-Star game and the Hall of Fame weekend.
Hall of Fame Game
Another suggestion for MLB would be to host a game in Cooperstown featuring the team or teams best represented by the newly inducted members. This year, we saw the excitement around the Field of Dreams game. MLB could capitalize on a similar excitement while drawing more crowds to Cooperstown. Fans could experience the Hall of Fame, the ceremonies and then watch their favorite club play at the famous Double Day field.
In the past, MLB has had an exhibition game but that was eventually cancelled due to low attendance and scheduling difficulties. For this proposal to work, MLB would have to have a real game between teams who likely would have fans in upstate New York.
This year would be the perfect time for a game between the Yankees, for Derek Jeter, and the Rockies, for Larry Walker.
Advertising, TV Deals and Tourism
The final major benefit for revamping the Hall of Fame Ceremony would be the potential dollars that could be earned by MLB and Cooperstown. Major networks like Fox and ESPN would certainly be interested in broadcasting the game and a more premier timeslot will draw additional advertisers. MLB has long struggled to attract younger viewers, and this could be a way to get more fans interested in the sport.
The final benefit would be for Cooperstown. While the town does get a large number of visitors coming for the Hall of Fame, additional attention is never a bad thing for small businesses.
Sadly like many areas of baseball, the Hall of Fame inductions is another miss by Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball.
Come join the discussion made by the fans at the Overtime Heroics forums! A place for all sports fans!
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images