With Major League Baseball still unsure whether it will be able to resume games by July, it’s an announcement that isn’t surprising, but still a little disappointing (much like everything else in the last 50 days) — the Baseball Hall of Fame is postponing its 2020 induction ceremony, opting instead to honor the Class of 2020 next summer, alongside the Class of 2021.
That means one more year of waiting for a former Brewer who was set to finally be immortalized in the Hall after a long wait. If anyone stands to be disappointed by the announcement, it would probably be the 70-year-old Ted Simmons, who ended his career in 1988 but didn’t get the call until this past winter, when he was finally voted in by the Veterans Committee.
Instead, Simmons says not only does he understand the decision — he supports it wholeheartedly, according to a statement released by the Hall:
“It’s clear that cancelling this year’s Induction Ceremony was the appropriate decision. ... I commend the Board for making this decision under these difficult circumstances, particularly in New York, a state severely hit by the pandemic. This was the wisest and smartest thing to do, given the existing environment and the danger that this pandemic presents.”
The decision makes practical sense for a lot of reasons. As Simmons points out, New York is the hardest-hit state in the country when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center counting 299,691 confirmed cases in the state as of this morning — or about 28% of the country’s 1,043,595 confirmed cases. It stands to reason that New York is going to take longer to get back to “normal” than most states — even in upstate regions like Cooperstown. Packing thousands of people from across the country into that small town — and surrounding retired players who are at or near the most at-risk age — seems like it would be a bad idea, even two months from now.
You’d probably forgive the Hall for not doing a remote NFL Draft-style induction ceremony, too, considering Simmons (and Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, and the other people being honored) deserve more than a courtesy Zoom conference in recognition of their lives in baseball.
This will be the first time since 1961 that an induction ceremony won’t be held, and 2021 will be the first time since 1949 that two classes will be inducted at the same time.
Simmons spent 5 seasons in Milwaukee, making 2 All-Star appearances and helping the Brewers make back-to-back postseason appearances in 1981 and 1982. He’ll go into the Hall wearing a St. Louis Cardinals cap.