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Baseball Hall of Fame cancels 2020 Induction Weekend

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York

The National Baseball Hall of Fame has canceled its entire 2020 Induction Weekend scheduled for July, and will instead stage the event in July 2021, delaying what was expected to be a massive influx of fans to the Cooperstown, New York-based shrine. 

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Hall’s board of directors voted unanimously this week to not hold its 2020 Induction Weekend, originally scheduled for July 24-27, and will instead hold the event July 23-26, 2021. The full one-year delay and retaining the traditional scope of the Hall’s Induction Ceremonies were strongly favored over other options such as a smaller delay into the late summer or fall, or developing some type of virtual event.

“While we are disappointed to cancel this incredibly special event, the Board of Directors’ overriding concern is the health and well-being of our new inductees, our Hall of Fame members, our wonderful fans, and the hundreds of staff it takes to present the weekend’s event in all of its many facets,” said Jane Forbes Clark, Hall chairman.

This year’s Hall class was headlined by current Miami Marlins chief executive and former New York Yankees great Derek Jeter, one of Major League Baseball’s most marketable stars whose widespread popularity was expected to draw an historic crowd to the small upstate New York locale. Jeter fell just one vote short of being elected unanimously back in January, and his planned presence in Cooperstown this summer was expected to fuel a crowd beyond the all-time Induction Ceremonies attendance record of 82,000 set in 2007.

But long before the election of Jeter to the Hall earlier this year, many hotels, bed-and-breakfast establishments, and other lodging facilities, not to mention restaurants and gift shops, in and around Cooperstown had been actively planning for the summer of 2020 and centered their business plans around Jeter-fueled commerce.

When Jeter announced his retirement plans in 2014, that set in motion the Hall’s mandatory five-year waiting period before a former active player appears on the ballot, and began the heavy Cooperstown tourism push centered around him. But all that is now on hold for a year.

“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame will be an incredible honor, but the health and safety of everyone involved are paramount,” Jeter said. “I respect and support the decision to postpone this year’s enshrinement, and am looking forward to joining current Hall of Famers, fans, staff, and my family and friends in Cooperstown in 2021.”

Joining Jeter will be fellow 2020 electees that include former standout outfielder Larry Walker, longtime catcher Ted Simmons, and the late influential MLB Players Association executive director Marvin Miller. The election of Miller in particular was one of the most controversial issues in the sport for many years, and he fell short on the ballot seven prior times. 

The Hall itself also remains closed, and has been since last month due to the public health crisis, and there is no timetable for reopening. The nearby Cooperstown Dreams Park, a prominent destination for youth baseball, has similarly canceled its 2020 summer season. The ongoing shutdowns will undoubtedly be a fiscal blow for the non-profit Hall itself, which reported a $3.99m net profit for 2018.

New York has the most Covid-19 cases of any US state, though most of the cases there are centered downstate around the five boroughs of New York city.

The Hall has held Induction Ceremonies every year since 1961, after not having them in 1950, 1958, and 1960 due to the absence of new electees. No elections were held in 1940, 1941, and 1943, and Ceremonies for Rogers Hornsby in 1942 were not held due to World War II.