This year's Hall of Fame Weekend expected to be the town's largest ever.

The Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce started fielding hotel bookings for Sunday's Baseball Hall of Fame induction weekend the day after Cal Ripken Jr. announced his retirement in 2001.

"People from all over the U.S. and the world, for that matter, have called to find accommodations," Chamber Executive Director John Bullis said.

With as many as 60,000 people to find spots for, his organization referred them to hotels, motels and campgrounds in places as far flung as Albany, Syracuse and Binghamton. And Oneida County establishments reaped the benefit as well.

"All of our hotel rooms are already full," said Paul Ziegler, noting the Great American Irish Festival is this weekend as well.

This year's Hall of Fame Weekend, in which Ripken and San Diego's Tony Gwynn were inducted, is expected to be the town's largest ever, and is an example of how interdependent different parts of the Central New York region are upon one another.

Taking the cooperation a step further, Ziegler said he'd be in Cooperstown himself this weekend to help direct the massive influx of buses the village was expecting, since his organization and its Cooperstown counterpart had worked together so much over the years.

"They've always worked with us," he said. "I know how to handle buses and it's better than getting a volunteer."

800 at Turning Stone

With Baltimore, where Ripken played for two decades with the Orioles, just a six-hour drive from Cooperstown, fans are flooding in to see the popular player honored.

Turning Stone Resort and Casino is hosting at least 800 guests who are attending the induction. Of those, 600 came in on buses from Baltimore.

Marc Komins, executive vice president of Maryland-based Superior Tours, said he'd started reserving rooms at Turning Stone three years ago. Many of those on the 11 buses he filled are from Ripken's Maryland hometown, where Komins advertised heavily. In addition, he advertised at the Orioles' home stadium, Camden Yards.

"Turning Stone was the biggest hotel or resort I could find that I could get rooms at," he said.

Turning Stone spokesman Jerry Reed said Komin's 11 buses, along with four other busloads of induction goers, was "our largest motor coach weekend ever."

"We are always busy on the weekend, but this weekend is especially busy," he said.

Unfortunately for the area, Komins' group will be spending all their time in Cooperstown, despite their Oneida County digs, Komins said.

Campgrounds benefit, too

Renee Scialdo Shevat, president and owner of Herkimer Diamond Mines, KOA campground in Herkimer and Gems Along the Mohawk visitor center, said this weekend would probably be busier than most, but her businesses benefited from lots of regional events.

"A lot of the visitors, they use our KOA park as a home base to travel outward upward or southward, she said. "They go to Cooperstown, Old Forge or do the historic Erie Canal."

Whether it's Hall of Fame Weekend, the Boilermaker or the Canal Splash days, big area events bring visitors into lots of businesses, she said.