This was supposed to be the summer of record-breaking crowds in Cooperstown for the July 26 induction of Derek Jeter into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The Captain was coming home to the Hall of Fame.
Baseball heaven, it appears, is going to have to wait until 2021.
The Hall of Fame is expected to postpone the induction ceremonies until next summer because of the coronavirus pandemic with the official announcement coming most likely Friday after an executive board conference call.
That means Jeter and his legion of Yankees fans will have to wait one more summer. It also means the beautiful village of Cooperstown will have to find a way to hold on financially, with dark days ahead.
Considering that the Hall usually brings in about 60-plus Hall of Famers from around the country every year for the induction, this certainly appears to be the right call, especially when you consider that 38 Hall of Famers are 70 or older.
“You just don’t want those Hall of Famers traveling this year because of the coronavirus,’’ an industry source familiar with the Hall’s thinking told The Post.
A spokesman for the Hall wrote in an email Tuesday: “We will be having a board call this week and while a final determination hasn’t been made, one definitely should be on or around May 1st.’’
The Hall is aware that fans have to make plans months in advance, which is why it wanted to make the final call with the executive board on Friday.
It will mean Jeter and Larry Walker, who were selected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, will have to wait one more year. In addition the late Marvin Miller, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966-82, and Ted Simmons, who were elected to the Hall in a vote by the Modern Baseball Era Committee, will wait as well.
Curt Schilling is the favorite to be voted in next year by the BBWAA, so that class would not have nearly the drawing power of a Jeter class. It’s also possible Gil Hodges could be selected by the Golden Days Era committee. Having Jeter and Hodges going in together would be a special New York moment.
No induction weekend means no massive crowd at the Clark Sports Center, no parade down Main Street, no autograph signings, no overflowing restaurants. A postponement will crush the local economy in many ways.
Larry Petraglia is the owner of Doubleday Batting Range, a short walk from the Hall of Fame in the middle of town, next to historic Doubleday Field.
“We have a lot to be worried about,’’ Petraglia told The Post on Tuesday. “I think this year is pretty much shot with people coming to Cooperstown and I think the Hall of Fame is going to postpone the induction until next year. That would be destructive to us.”
“I usually open by Easter, but I may not even open up based on what [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo is saying, how long this process is going to take to get to phase three, we could be in the middle of July before I finally open up,’’ Petraglia said. “It’s not just the merchants it’s about the people who rent their properties every year to the [Cooperstown] Dreams Park and All-Star Village, they are losing that. They depend on that money to carry through the winter. I spoke to a couple of friends who are merchants in town and one told me he is down 50 percent, another said 70 percent and another 85 percent. The scary part is the unknown.”
One thing is certain, induction weekend will never be a social distance event.