The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced Wednesday, April 29, that its Board of Directors voted unanimously to cancel the 2020 Hall of Fame Induction Weekend events, citing health and safety concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
"You go through the options and realize how impractical they are," Hall of Fame president Tim Mead told The Daily Star regarding the decision. "A couple weeks ago you started to really realize there was progress, but not the definitive progress that was necessary. We had a Board of Directors meeting today and it solidified the thoughts people had in both the back of their mind and front of their mind."
The weekend, which was to include the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, was originally scheduled for July 24-27. Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the Hall of Fame, said in a media release the Class of 2020 and the 2020 award winners would be honored during the 2021 Hall of Fame Weekend, slated for July 23-26, 2021.
“In heeding the advice of government officials as well as federal, state and local medical and scientific experts, we chose to act with extraordinary caution in making this decision,” Clark said in the release. “Induction Weekend is a celebration of our national pastime and its greatest legends, and 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 events in all of its many facets."
The cancellation marks the first time since 1960 that there will not be an induction ceremony in Cooperstown. That year, zero candidates received the requisite percentage of votes and the veterans committee did not hold a vote.
"At the end of the day, everyone's health, safety and wellbeing is our responsibility and focal point," Mead said, acknowledging the wider economic and cultural repercussions of the cancellation. "Really, everything else falls a distant second to that."
The 2021 induction will mark the fourth time, and the first time since 1949, that multiple classes of inductees will enter the Hall of Fame together. The Class of 2020, headlined by longtime Yankees captain Derek Jeter along with Marvin Miller, Larry Walker and Ted Simmons, will join the Class of 2021 in Cooperstown next summer.
“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame will be an incredible honor, but the health and safety of everyone involved are paramount,” Jeter said in a media release. “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.”
"I fully understand and agree with the Board’s decision,” Walker said in the release. "It is most important to do the right thing for everybody involved, and that means not putting any participants in jeopardy, whether Hall of Famers or visitors. I realize how serious this situation has become and how many lives have been lost."
The Hall of Fame closed its doors to the public on March 15 and remains closed. Updates on the museum's status are provided every Sunday at baseballhall.org and on the museum's social media accounts.