By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network
The New York State trooper with the signature hat asked us where we were going on a side street in Cooperstown, N.Y. on induction weekend.
"I'm a member of the media and we're trying to get to the Clark Sports Centre,'' I told him.
"OK, so you go down this street and hang a left and then a right,'' the trooper advised us.
Some streets were blocked off and the troopers were handing out directions left and right.
"This is getting us ready for bigger events,'' the policeman said as we chatted about the inordinate amount of troopers in Cooperstown.
Yes, bigger events. He didn't let on, but the 2020 induction weekend that will celebrate Derek Jeter's fabled baseball career with the New York Yankees is one such event.
Is Cooperstown ready? Jeter will likely set an attendance record, breaking the mark of 82,000 set when Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken were honoured in 2007.
During the recent induction weekend that saw Montreal Expos legend Tim Raines make his way into the hallowed hall, a fan from from Boston and I got talking. All of a sudden, he blurted out this prediction: Jeter's induction would attract a crowd of 250,000 because of his immense popularity and his pristine character.
The figure of 250,000 might be far-fetched but 100,000 isn't, considering Jeter's stature in the game and the fact that he played for the Yankees, who are located in the same state as Cooperstown. The draw from New York City and surrounding areas would be immense, not to mention upstate New York near Cooperstown and all across North America, for that matter.
"If the stars align, there's no reason to think we can't surpass 2007 but I would not speculate on a number,'' National Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said Aug. 12, when I queried him about Jeter. "It's way too early to know how many, though it's not too early to know it will be very big.
"The more popular a player from the East Coast is with fans, the more they draw. You cannot deny Derek's popularity but it also has do with whom else earns election and the weather.''
Jeter was bypassed by the Expos in the 1992 amateur draft of high school and college/university players and went on to play his entire career with the Yankees from 1995 to 2014. It appears that he will play a large part in the ownership group that is taking over the Miami Marlins.
Jeter and his group have a big, big job ahead of them if they hope to resurrect failing attendance. I'm not sure that even Jeter's name will be enough to improve the Marlins' brand in Miami. One thing is for sure, that franchise could be ripe for relocation down the road and what better place than Montreal.