With the sports world still reacting to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s decision to cancel the 2020 Hall of Fame Weekend, Hall of Fame President Tim Mead said the preparation for next year’s induction will begin almost immediately.
“As I was new to the staff last summer, replacing my good friend Jeff Idelson, I saw preparation for Induction Weekend 2020 began the next week following the July ceremony of 2019,” said Mead, who took over his current post of president in June of 2019. “Obviously we aren’t all there in Cooperstown right now, but those discussions will start right away.”
And what an event 2021’s induction weekend could become. The Class of 2020, now waiting an extra calendar year to enter baseball immortality, included the much-anticipated induction of New York Yankees great Derek Jeter, along with Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller. With recognizable former stars in Barry Bonds, Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens each appearing on the ballot for the ninth time - not to mention players such as Mark Buehrle and Torii Hunter making their first appearance - the 2021 ceremony could be outsized even among those featuring multiple classes of electees.
“Obviously it’ll be unique because we’ll have two classes, so we will look at all the elements involved in that. But there is a quality, and standards, established with this weekend and they will be maintained and enhanced,” Mead said.
The last ceremony to include multiple classes was in 1949, when the Classes of 1948 and 1949 were inducted together. But with the potential pool of players entering the Hall of Fame, 2021 may attract an audience far larger even than the record-setting crowds of recent years.
“We are going to wait and see what happens in January of 2021. We can’t get ahead of ourselves, but just this year was certainly going to be a big weekend and challenge attendance records,” Mead said. “The last few years have been well-attended weekends as well. So what we’re going to focus on is the execution and implementation of a great program for the inductees, their families, the village of Cooperstown and everyone that joins us for this special event.”
While discussions about managing the rare circumstances of the 2021 induction will get under way quickly, Mead said specific preparations for any event, especially one more than a year away, are difficult during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. And with the museum being closed since mid-March, the Hall of Fame staff has more immediate problems to address.
“We are kind of in a wait-and-see mode. Our next priority is getting the Hall opened up, and we are waiting for that like so may other places across the state, and country,” he said.
So while Mead and the Hall of Fame staff have short-term goals ahead of them, the long-term goal of next summer’s induction is already set. And who knows? The 2021 induction could the event that makes local residents, and the rest of the country, for that matter, feel like normality has returned.
“There’s definitely disappointment, but we all know that ceremony (2021) is going to be a special one, and to have two classes in 2021 will be unique and memorable,” Mead said. “And I say we not just as the Hall of Fame, but as part of the village, and a part of the surrounding area. We are all looking forward to a tremendous celebration in 2021.”