We talked about this some last summer, but Bill Madden of the Daily News reminds us today that the Hall of Fame debates which raged before and after last Wednesday’s announcement — and which will rage every year forever more, it seems — have to do with a hell of a lot more than history and honor:
His value just increased threefold and he can count on making millions in autograph signings for the rest of his life . . . 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.
Madden quotes that baseball card guy “Mr. Mint” as saying that the election could mean a million bucks to Dawson’s bottom line. As the Wall Street Journal reported last July, even dead guys can make bank on this sort of thing, as the heirs of Shoeless Joe Jackson could see as much as $500K a year in marketing opportunities if and when he’s ever inducted. Presumably that won’t involve any appearance fees at card shows, because that would be kind of gross.
Madden suggests that this Hall of Fame loot could be one reason why Tony La Russa hinted that he might activate Mark McGwire, thereby extending his Hall of Fame clock and allowing him to cash in one day. Given that McGwire made $75 million in salary alone as a ballplayer, I’m guessing this little Hall of Fame bump wouldn’t be a big motivator.
But it’s a little more easy to see the motivation of a Bert Blyleven or a Dave Parker or other guys of that vintage, who made a fraction of that over the course of their careers. Yes, I’m sure they want the honor and the glory most of all, but the next time you hear lobbying on their behalf — or from them directly, as we often do from Blyleven — let us not forget that more than mere acclaim comes with being inducted into the Hall of Fame.