NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It would be a major upset if Derek Jeter didn’t get into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot. If he retires at the end of the 2014 season, as he said Wednesday he would, he won’t be eligible for induction until 2019.
The ceremony in Cooperstown would then take place in the summer of 2020.
And if that all plays out like many expect, don’t think for a second that his fans plan to miss it.
Need proof? Well, try this one on for size. In anticipation of the Yankees captain getting inducted hotels in the Cooperstown area were getting calls and emails on Thursday from fans trying to book rooms for more than six years from now. It marked the second straight day of Jeter madness, following his announcement and then reports of ticket prices for his final home game at Yankee Stadium and final regular season game, at Fenway Park, going into the stratosphere.
“We wondered why all of sudden we were getting calls,” Bob Holt, general manager of the Best Western in Cooperstown, told the Albany Times-Union.
The problem the fans encountered didn’t have to do with room availability necessarily, but more with technology.
“Our system only allows 52 weeks out,” he said of the booking process. “We usually don’t have rooms available for the general public.”
Patricia Szarpa, executive director of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, said most hotels won’t book six years in advance. However, she said the chamber will help people trying to find accommodations.
“It’s going to be one of those interesting, great problems to have,” Szarpa said.
Holt also told the newspaper that once the year countdown begins those looking to book a room will also have to deal with the hall itself, because it takes up approximately half of his availability.
But the demand to see Jeter become immortalized is understandable due to his overwhelming popularity. For the people in upstate New York his eventual induction will have added meaning considering he played in the minors for the Albany-Colonie Yankees back in 1994.
“I think you’ll probably see folks pitching tents,” Holt said.
The Best Western wasn’t the only hotel receiving calls, the newspaper reported. The nearby Otesaga Hotel received a handful of calls, but a representative said the inn is generally closed at that time of the year, primarily because it is catering to the hall.
Linda Smirk, who runs the Cooperstown Bed & Breakfast, told the newspaper she could easily see the turnout for Jeter’s induction top the number of people that showed up for Cal Ripken’s day in the sun back in 2007.
“You had 100,000 people on buses,” Smirk said.
Smirk said she received one phone call and several emails about rooms for 2020 on Wednesday. However, she said she couldn’t accept reservations because she and her husband might be retired by then.
“If people want to book ahead, they’re smart to do so,” she said.
One thing is certain, business in the Cooperstown area will likely be booming more than usual for several years, considering the number of Yankee legends that will be taking their turn entering the hall. Prior to Jeter’s expected arrival in 2020, recently retired Mariano Rivera will likely get voted into the hall in 2018 and inducted the following year. Joe Torre, who managed the Yankees to four world championships from 1996-2001, will be inducted this summer.
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