More joy came to Mudville this week, as the three talented baseball players — Derek Jeter, Ted Simmons and Larry Walker — who were elected to the Hall of Fame in 2020, journeyed to Cooperstown for their COVID-delayed, toned-down inductions. Marvin Miller, the first director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, who died in 2012, was also inducted.
By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
In the lull of the 2013 Hall of Fame Induction, when no living people were inducted and only about 2,000 die-hard fans attended on a rainy day, and some people speculated about the demise of the tradition, keen baseball observers knew the Yankees would be coming to Cooperstown eventually.
When large class after large class started popping big attendance figures for inductions the latter half of the last decade — topping out at 53,000 for Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Alan Trammell, Jim Thome and Jack Morris in 2018 — keen baseball observers whispered, “just wait and see what the Yankee years bring.”
By CHARLIE VASCELLARO • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
A long time ago in what seems like a galaxy far, far away … way back in the pre-coronavirus era, January of 2020 the New York Yankees all-time greatest shortstop Derek Jeter was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, garnering 396 of 397 votes.
Jeter fell one vote shy of joining teammate Mariano Rivera as just the second unanimous selection in Hall of Fame voting history. Rivera was named on all 425 of the ballots cast in the 2019 election.
Jeter made his major league debut May 29, 1995, six days after Rivera made his first appearance, heralding an era that saw the Yankees reach the post-season for the first time in 14 years. The Yankees were eliminated by the Seattle Mariners in the 1995 ALDS but, propelled by Jeter’s Rookie of the Year performance, returned to the post-season in 1996 and won the World Series for the first time in 18 years.
Rivera finished third in 1996 Cy Young voting posting an 8-3 record with a 2.09 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 107 innings in his first full season as the team’s set-up man in the bullpen. The pair is eternally linked on Yankees modern “dynasty” teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s. As Yankees their entire careers, they would win 13 American League East division titles, seven AL pennants and five World Series, including three in-a-row from 1998-2000.
Jeter made the first of 14 All-Star Game appearances in 1998 and won his first of five Gold Glove Awards in 2004. He is the Yankees all-time leader with 3,465 hits; he surpassed Lou Gehrig’s mark of 2,721 in 2009. His 2,674 games played as shortstop are a record for the position and he never played another position in the field, even after Alex Rodriguez, a seven-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glover at the position, joined the Yankees in 2004.
By CHARLIE VASCELLARO • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Marvin Miller, the first director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, was elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Modern Era Committee, along with catcher Ted Simmons in December 2019.
The cancellation of the Hall’s 2020 Induction ceremony because of the coronavirus pandemic postponed their inductions, along with Baseball Writers’ Association of America selections Derek Jeter and Larry Walker, all four of whom will be enshrined when the ceremony returns to the grounds of the Clark Sports Center in the town of Middlefield at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 8.
Miller who passed away Nov. 27, 2012, gained induction to the Hall posthumously on the eighth occasion his name appeared on a Veterans/Era Committee Ballot and will occupy a unique corner of the Hall as the first labor leader to be enshrined.
Elected as the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1966, Miller succeeded former president Bob Feller (1956-1959) and player agent Frank Scott (1959-1966) in the first year the organization was recognized as a union.
COOPERSTOWN — Following last week’s announcement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that lifted significant COVID-19 restrictions, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced Monday, June 21, that tickets will not be needed for free lawn seating for the Wednesday, Sept. 8, induction ceremony.
The ceremony was rescheduled from its traditional last Sunday in July to an event at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 8, on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center in the town of Middlefield.
The event will celebrate the inductions of Class of 2020 members Derek Jeter, Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons and Larry Walker and will be broadcast live exclusively on MLB Network.
Since 1992, the event has been held on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center, with estimated crowds approaching and surpassing 50,000 at five of the last six ceremonies, from 2014 to 2019. The second-largest crowd on record – an estimated 55,000 people – attended the Hall of Fame’s last induction, July 21, 2019.
When the going gets tough, the entrepreneurs get going.
A corollary: The entrepreneurial spirit isn’t limited to entrepreneurs. (Per Merriam-Webster: “A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater-than-normal financial risks in order to do so.”)
So it was telling to watch the Cooperstown Chamber’s first “Coffee With Coop” panel discussion via Zoom last Friday, March 19. Kudos to the Chamber, and Executive Director Tara Burke, who was also an adept emcee.
It was a little disheartening to hear a recitation of all the Hall of Fame cancellations, although the scope of its undertakings – an estimated 80,000 fans were expected at Derek Jeter’s Induction – make them particularly fraught, not to mention dangerous, in Time of COVID.
And yet, the entrepreneurial spirit lived in presentations by, first, Fenimore President/CEO Paul D’Ambrosio and then, in Glimmerglass Opera General & Artistic Director Francesca Zambello.
By MICHAEL FORSTER ROTHBART • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Call it COVID fatigue.
Shocking as it may have been at another time, the Baseball Hall of Fame’s announcement last week that this year’s July 25 Induction Ceremony will be broadcast on TV by the MLB Network, that’s it, has been largely accepted in Baseball Town.
What was expected to be record-breaking crowds cheering superstar Derek Jeter on the Clark Sports Center fields into the Hall of Plaques has turned into a so-far unspecified number of people in an unspecified venue.
The word of the week is “disappointed,” sometimes followed by a “but.”
“While the village is disappointed,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, “I think the Hall of Fame made a wise – and probably the only – decision they could make.”
“To say it’s disappointing is an understatement,” added Jeff Katz, Friends of Doubleday president (and former mayor), “but not a surprise. I’d be surprised if anybody was shocked.”
By CHRYSTAL SAVAGE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
If not for Derek Jeter and his Classmates of 2020, this would have been another sparse summer for baseball in Cooperstown.
For the first time since 2013, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America elected none of the 25 Hall of Fame candidates above 75 percent, leaving the class of 2021 at zero.
Hall of Fame President Tim Mead announced results pf BBWAA balloting Tuesday, Jan. 26 – for the first time, broadcast from the Hall of Plaques at 22 Main St.
He said he’s confident that the ceremony will take place on July 25, saying that there is a lot of “diligent” work happening “behind the scenes.”
Mead’s presentation, which was broadcast live by the MLB Network, also marks the first time an Induction Class has been announced at the Hall of Plaques.
For years, it was done at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Lately, HoF presidents, Jeff Idelson and last year Mead, announced the class at MLB Network headquarters in Secaucus, N.J.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
VIRTUAL TOUR – 2 p.m. Zoom meeting featuring walk through of exhibit ‘Albrecht Dürer: Master Prints’ with Assistant Curator of American Art Ann Cannon featuring in-depth discussion and Q&A session. Free, registration required. Suggested donation $5. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400 or visit www.fenimoreartmuseum.org
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, JULY 26
BASEBALL – Noon. Virtual Voices of the Game to honor Hall of Fame 2020 inductee Derek Jeter. Learn more about how the Yankees 5 world series titles with Jeter as the shortstop in every season. Jeter will be joined by fellow Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera, Joe Torre reflecting on their teams and the moments that shaped a dynasty. Visit baseballhall.org/events/virtual-legends-of-the-game-Ted-Simmons?date=0 for details.
COOPERSTOWN – As big league baseball makes its season debut, the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2020, including Derek Jeter this Sunday, will headline a slate of virtual events July 23-26 in honor of what would have been Hall of Fame Weekend 2020.
Class of 2020 members Derek Jeter, Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons and Larry Walker will each be spotlighted in hour-long Legends of the Game programs starting at 12 p.m. this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the Museum’s Facebook page at facebook.com/baseballhall.
Merchants Anticipate 2021, Tabloid Says
Editor’s Note: Here’s an excerpt from today’s report in the New York Daily News on the Baseball Hall of Fame delaying this year’s induction.
COOPERSTOWN – This was supposed to be the big one, the grand slam of a doubleheader. Five years ago, Tim Gould started planning for it. This winter, Tim Haney began buying up wood and supplies in preparation and Art Boden was wondering how much staff he would need to handle it.
A year after huge crowds had descended on Cooperstown to see Mariano Rivera inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, they would have Derek Jeter, the last true crossover star that baseball has had, going into the Hall of Fame at the end of July.
“Five years ago, when Jeter retired after Mariano, we said 2020 is going to be it, it’s going to be two big years in a row,” said Gould, who has owned and operated Cooley’s Stone House Tavern on Pioneer Street in Cooperstown for almost 16 years. “This was going to be a year that was bigger than the record years, we were all looking forward to 2020.
“Now, we have to hope 2021 can be even bigger.”
By LIBBY CUDMORE & JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – As many as 90,000 fans were anticipated in Cooperstown for this year’s July 26 Induction of Yankees’ superstar Derek Jeter.
But instead of a potential record-breaking crowd, USA Today revealed this week, the Clark Sports Center field may be empty.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic raging across the country – with 292,000 cases in New York – there is little choice but to push it back a year and combine the two Hall of Fame classes,” baseball columnist Bob Nightengale posted Tuesday, April 28, on usatoday.com.
“If that is the case, postponing is probably the best-case scenario,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch. “I had a hard time envisioning that there would be any mass gathering prior to antibody testing or a vaccine.”
Though Jon Shestakofsky, Hall vice president/communications & education, said Nightengale’s piece is “not entirely accurate,” he did say the Hall of Fame board of directors will be meeting this week, and “at some point this week we should have a decision to share.”
County board Chairman, Dave Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield, said despite challenges to the column’s accuracy, “we’re curious to see what they actually come out with. Obviously, it would be a disappointment for everyone if it doesn’t happen, but it’s not surprising given the current circumstances.”
“I’m not surprised,” said Vinnie Russo, owner of Mickey’s Place and dean of the Main Street merchants. “At a minimum I thought it would be delayed until the fall.”
With 600 hotel rooms in Greater Cooperstown and another 1,000 rooms in Oneonta getting a four-day premium of perhaps $1,000 each, he estimated that lost revenue alone as heading toward $2 million.
Mickey’s Place, which sells premium baseball caps, is open year ’round, but “if your business opens your door on Memorial Day and closes Labor Day, it’s substantially greater than that.”
County Rep. Andrew Marietta, Cooperstown/Town of Otsego, the senior Democrat on the county board, said he wasn’t surprised either and, with the COVID-19 budget crunch, the county board was otherwise occupied.
“From the county’s perspective,” he added, “I didn’t hear any talk about there not being an Induction. I don’t even think it’s been on the table. The county is focused on preparing for (reductions) in funding.”
According to Nightengale, the Hall dismissed the idea of a “virtual” ceremony early on.
“Half of the feeling of Induction is just being there,” said Tillapaugh. Still, perhaps merchants could use the summer without baseball to “re-imagine” their businesses.
“Many businesses have an online component that may tide them over,” she said. “We can use this as a regrouping year, and have a safe induction
JETER TO JOIN CLASS OF 2021
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Derek Jeter will have to wait another year to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“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.”
The Board of Directors met today and voted unanimously to cancel the annual Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, which has been held in Cooperstown every year since 1961, citing health and safety concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“No decision has been made about Induction Weekend and conversations are ongoing,” Shestakofsky said today in response to a query. “All scenarios are being discussed, including the possibility of continuing as planned for this July.”
With Derek Jeter in the Class of 2020 possibly drawing a record crowd, this year’s Induction has been awaited with particular anticipation.