In a recent column for the New York Daily News (newly elected Hall of Fame sportswriter) Bill Madden discusses the financial windfall that can come from a HOF induction. He writes:
But here’s what Dawson does know about being a newly minted Hall of Famer: His value just increased threefold and he can count on making millions in autograph signings for the rest of his life.
“I’ve always said making the Hall of the Fame is worth a minimum of a million dollars,” said Alan (Mr. Mint) Rosen, the renowned “Million Dollar Dealer.” “To begin with, guys who were getting $10 per autograph, as Dawson was, immediately jump to $40, but then you have to take into account the greatly increased demand for his autograph. Once you’re in the Hall of the Fame there are hundreds of thousands of collectors who have to get your signature on their Hall of Fame pieces — photos, balls, bats, plaque cards whatever. It doesn’t matter what uniform you’re in on your plaque. All that matters is you’re in.”
If he hasn’t already, Dawson will quickly find out from his fellow Hall of Famers how the road to Cooperstown intersects with Easy Street. For example: Goose Gossage went from getting $3,000 an appearance as a perennial also-ran on the Hall of Fame ballot to $25,000 an appearance after he was elected, as his autograph increased from $10 to $50.
He goes on to add that steroid admissions can have the opposite impact:
But as one prominent memorabilia promoter said: “Because of the steroids, the value of Clemens’ autograph has dropped from $100 to $50 or less. But if he would be elected, it would go right back up there and nobody will ever remember he used steroids.
We can only imagine how much money the Yanks and Alex Rodriguez lost with the Selena Roberts book last season. As you may recall, when Alex signed his record-breaking 300 mil contract with the Yanks after the 07 season, all sorts of marketing deals were attached to the various milestones he was expected to achieve over the course of the deal. Although those deals were largely partnerships with Alex, so if those two exceedingly wealthy parties stand to lose a few bucks, we shouldn’t shed too many tears for them.
But this sheds even more light on the equation sportswriters add up in their own minds as they cast these votes. It’s one thing for the mostly low-paid sportswriters to case a vote that will be worth million for someone they like, that’s someone who you’d want to see do well and have an easy life. But for someone you dislike? It’s added incentive to leave them off your ballot. I’m sure some of these writers must think to themselves ‘It’s bad enough this guy was a jerk to me, now I’m supposed to make him rich?’
None of which, of course, has anything to do with casting an objective vote on who is the most qualified to be ion the Hall of Fame and who isn’t. It’s not supposed to be a popularity contest, it’s about enshrining the greatest players who ever played the game for posterity. 50 years from now, no one will care whether or not Albert Belle was a jerk to Jon Heyman, and frankly most fans and visitors of Cooperstown don’t care even today. They want the Hall to represent something that is above petty personality conflicts, and be the gold standard for those who played the game at the highest level. It’s not ‘The Hall of Really Good Players Who Filled Reporter’s Notebooks’ it’s the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Any writer who takes this into consideration just makes the case even stronger that the writers shouldn’t be allowed to vote anymore, or at the very least the HOF should consider reconfiguring the voting system to include other voices. Other HOF players, Broadcasters, Sabermatricians, Blogs with high readership bases, etc. A small step in this direction was already taken with Baseball Reference founder Sean Forman gaining a HOF ballot earlier this year. One way to achieve this would be expansion of BWAA membership, which already makes sense in the changing media world. The more voices you add, the less influence a few writers with petty personal gripes can have. Its not about them, it’s about posterity.
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