MLB has announced that the 2021 Hall Of Fame Induction ceremony will be a televised event only, an abrupt decision that needs correction.
Major League Baseball (MLB), during the darkest days of winter in mid-February when the COVID Pandemic was still swarming the continent, and a vaccine was not yet within reach of most citizens, MLB announced that the 2021 HOF Induction Ceremony scheduled for July 25 would be a television event only with no fans in attendance.
At the time, most of us expressed disappointment but understood that MLB was probably making the right call, all things considered.
MLB: The Times They Are A-Changing
Two months later, as of today, April 14, 75 million Americans have received the full vaccine, a number that is 22.7 percent of our population, and the list is growing every day.
No reasonable person can argue we are out of the woods yet. Still, surely MLB has more data and information available to (at least) re-evaluate their initial stance to permit X number of fans to attend the ceremony, provided there is strict adherence to pre-established guidelines for all attendees.
In 2019 when Mariano Rivera was honored for his unanimous election to the HOF, the estimated crowd of 55,000 fans was the second-largest in history, trailing only the 82,000 fans that attended the 2007 induction of Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr.
This year, Larry Walker, Derek Jeter, and Ted Simmons will be among those inducted. Many believe that Jeter’s throng of fans would break the attendance record – but again – no reasonable fan or person can think the gates should be swung wide open by MLB, allowing that to happen.
MLB: This Can Be Done (Safely)
But as with anything, there is always room for compromise. In conjunction with the National Center For Disease Control (CDC) and New York State government officials, a formula similar to allowing fans to attend MLB games now can be arrived at.
One guideline, or in this case rule, can and should be a requirement that all attendees must show proof of being fully vaccinated, thereby limiting exposure right from the get-go.
An announcement from MLB now to this effect gives fans wishing to attend plenty of time. It can even spur publicity and incentives for fans to get vaccinated, making it, in effect, a privilege to be there in person.
Perhaps even more than fans, though, three players, each of whom spent two decades to reach the highest honor in baseball, deserve MLB’s consideration in doing everything it can to reverse its decision while still maintaining all practical safety measures.
Cooperstown: A Baseball Celebration To Behold
And last but not least is the village of Cooperstown, the home of the Baseball Hall Of Fame, which comes alive once a year for a three-day celebration that lines its streets with past players, famous and not so famous, who give of their time signing autographs and posing for pictures – for free.
It was my good fortune, for instance, to see former Yankees third-baseman Clete Boyer sitting idle at a table. Spotting his 1961 World Series ring, I asked if I could try it on. Without hesitation, he handed the ring to me. Small things mean a lot.
I observed something else that day in 2006 that MLB is always hawking about but does little to encourage. Families with their kids, single moms, and dads treating their children are predominant in the crowd. Grow the sport, MLB says…
So MLB…start buying enough chalk to draw separation pods on the lawn, determine the number of fans who can safely attend, establish a tickets lottery if you have to – but make the announcement soon that you’ve changed your mind…