August 4, 1997 in Sports

Hall Of Fame’s Web Site Belongs In The Bush Leagues

Tom Hoffarth Los Angeles Daily News

If they had a Hall of Fame for sports Internet sites, the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s wouldn’t get in on the first ballot.

Or second. It might take a veterans committee vote to make it work.

Here’s another comparison: It’s like Phil Rizzuto. If you look at the big picture, it probably doesn’t belong based on merit, but enough people will complain, so it’ll get attention.

Surfing to the Cooperstown site seems “The Natural” thing to do this week. But, we find the script to “The Babe Ruth Story” and nothing to bring it into the modern era.

You’d think that since Sunday’s induction ceremony wasn’t on live TV, it might be live here. Unfortunately, no pictures of the ceremony, no sound bites, no video. Not even Stan Musial playing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on the harmonica?

And for all the “interactive” elements the Hall boasts on its home page, there’s very little interactive access from the computer end.

The home page provides 11 detours in what amounts to an online brochure. But of those, there are only a couple worth actually clicking onto.

A link to the list of members (where you can get everyone listed alphabetically, by voting percentage or by year of induction) reveals the Hall address, where it promises to forward any correspondence (i.e. petitions to get a certain someone voted in) to the committee members, but “the Hall will not make copies of letters for distribution or accept fax or e-mail.” So stop harping about Pete Rose.

Actually, the most interesting click here is the official statement regarding Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson, and a list of the most frequently asked questions about their status.

Q: Is it hypocritical that the Hall has about 20 items from Rose’s playing days in the museum, but Rose isn’t enshrined?

A: “We are a National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. It’s important to make that distinction. For Pete Rose not to be represented (in the museum) would be an aberration.”

Guess that clears things up. By the way, aren’t those Shoeless Joe’s shoes on display over there? And where’s the link to the official Pete Rose 4,256 Hit King Fan Club? (It’s for your bookmarks.)

A link to the “Memories and Dreams” section lacks, well, memories and dreams. The Hall Library shows potential, but doesn’t allow access to anything worthwhile. Any detailed research projects must be done at the Cooperstown, N.Y., building, and appointments must be made ahead of time.

One could, however, spend about a half-hour browsing through the museum store, especially for stuff on Tom Lasorda and his Class of ‘97 inductees.

A ‘97 induction baseball ($9.95), cap ($16.95 or $18.95 depending on style), T-shirt ($20), tankard ($60, limited to 500) or engraved bat ($115, limited to 250) will put a dent in your Visa. And special caps made for the Dodgers-Padres game today are actually pretty nice ($18). But no e-mail orders. Gotta call 1-888-HALL-OF-FAME.

It would have been nice Sunday to feel like a participant in the ceremony. Or at least look at John McGraw’s bronze plaque and compare his mug to Lasorda’s. The promise is that “as the Website develops, individual pages for each member will be posted and include more information.”

But from what we read, the Hall has seen a big drop off in attendance, translating to lean financial times. Don’t expect future money to go toward developing the site if that’s the case.

And that’s too bad. As the next generation of baseball fans become Internet-savvy, they surely won’t be dazzled by baseball’s past here.


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