The Hall of Fame holds an annual induction ceremony where the sport’s greats are honoured. This year, for the first time since 1965, no living player was enshrined. Several retired players with especially impressive (albeit questionable) playing records, such as Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, were eligible for entry. Many, however, were suspected or confirmed steroid users. The hall’s voters, all sports writers, clearly thought cheats should not be celebrated.

Which is all well and good, but inductee weekend is a big moneymaker for the hall and the village shops. In 2007, when Cal Ripken junior and Tony Gwynn, two baseball legends, were honoured, 80,000 people descended on Cooperstown. Crowds of 10,000-25,000 are routine. This year the turnout was a paltry 2,500.

Shop-owners, and the mayor, are hoping it was just a blip—and that things will improve next year, when a strong, not to mention clean, group of players will be eligible. But they are still worried. Attendance at the Hall of Fame and Museum has been falling: in 2008 there were 301,755 visitors, last year only 262,816 came.

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