Cooperstown, N.Y. - "We're glad the Hall has made this call for everyone's safety," said Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh.
Tens of thousands of fans from across the country make their way to Cooperstown every summer for baseball hall of fame classic weekend and the induction weekend ceremonies.
This year, they're be making their way to their living rooms.
The Hall of Fame announced that all 2021 Hall of Fame Classic events, scheduled for May 29-29 have been canceled. This includes the Hall of Fame Classic Legends game, Classic Weekend’s Night at the Museum meet-and-greet, BASE Race and Cooperstown Classic Clinic.
The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on July 25 will be televised.
In a press release, Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the National baseball Hall of Fame and Museum states,
“Though we are having to cancel our 2021 Hall of Fame Classic Weekend, the Hall of Fame is maintaining its commitment to hold an Induction Ceremony on July 25. We had hoped to be in a position to welcome loyal baseball fans back to Cooperstown for Induction Weekend, but with the continuing uncertainties created by COVID-19, the Board of Directors has decided not to hold Induction Weekend ceremonies at the traditional Clark Sports Center location. We have prepared alternative plans to conduct our annual Awards Presentation and Induction Ceremony as television events taking place indoors and adhering to all of the required New York State guidelines.” (baseballhall.org)
"The pandemic is ongoing. I don't think they had any other choice to make but to consider public safety both the safety of the village and the visitors to the ceremonies," said Tillapaugh. "It’s hard on the village because this year would’ve been the 100th anniversary of Double Day field. We have been very excited to show off the improvements at Double Day field and help host some of the ceremonies associated with the induction. But, we’ll be patient. There are residents in the village who are concerned when out-of-towners come in and we have not progressed as far as we have hoped with the pandemic ending or the vaccinations being in place.”
The 2020 cancellation was the first time the Hall of Fame did not hold an induction ceremony since 1960. This year's ceremonies will honor the Class of 2020 of Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Marvin Miller, and Ted Simmons which would have possibly crushed attendance records. But now local businesses are without one of their highest revenue streams, yet again.
“It's probably going to take 50% of my revenue for the summer away again so it's a big hit,” said Brian Wrubleski, Chef/Owner of Mel’s at 22. “I wish they would do it next year and this year you know say, ‘hey it's not going to happen’ because it's like a tease. It's here but it's not here. But whatever business weekend and is better than nothing.”
“We’re fortunate in Cooperstown that we have more diversity on our Main Street than we’re given credit for. Many of those shops were open and did quite well last year. The locals really came out and supported our stores. So, I’m hopeful that many of our long-term businesses will be able, once again, to weather this,” said Tillapaugh.
The Hall has lost 10 members over the past year, although none reportedly due to coronavirus, the organization is taking all necessary health and safety precautions.
“It's disappointing for everybody. It's disappointing for the Hall of Fame, it's disappointing for the fans, it's disappointing for the business community,” said Tara Burke, Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. “But I don't think it was unexpected. I think a lot of the business community members here were preparing for this as a possibility with the state of the pandemic right now. It is difficult to wrap your head around how we would have that many thousands and thousands of people from across the country and one location safely.”
“I’m hoping that we won’t lose many businesses. I think there are several smaller baseball stores that really didn’t open last year and were holding on for this year. We’ll have to see what happens,” said Tillapaugh.
The induction ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, July 25, 2021.