(Reuters) - The Baseball Hall of Fame said on Wednesday that the Class of 2020, a group that includes longtime New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, will have to wait another year for their enshrinement ceremony because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Cooperstown, New York-based Hall of Fame said its board of directors voted unanimously to cancel the July 26 event and will now enshrine the inductees on July 25, 2021 along any additional new choices.
Prior to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the event featuring five-times World Series champions Jeter was expected to shatter the attendance record set in 2007 when over 70,000 spectators came to watch Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn be enshrined.
“While we are disappointed to cancel this incredibly special event, the Board of Directors’ overriding concern is the health and well-being of our new inductees, our Hall of Fame members, our wonderful fans and the hundreds of staff it takes to present the weekend’s events in all of its many facets,” Jane Forbes Clark, chairwoman of the Hall of Fame, said in a statement.
“In heeding the advice of government officials as well as federal, state and local medical and scientific experts, we chose to act with extraordinary caution in making this decision.
The Hall of Fame, which has been closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus, said this year will be the first without an induction ceremony since 1960.
If anyone new is elected next year, the Hall of Fame said it would be the first ceremony since 1949 to combine multiple classes of electees.
Jeter, whose Hall of Fame election was announced in January and was one vote short of being unanimous, was to be inducted this year with Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and the late Marvin Miller.
Jeter, Walker and Simmons, in a news release issued by the Hall of Fame, all commended the decision to scrap this year’s ceremony.
“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame will be an incredible honor, but the health and safety of everyone involved are paramount,” said Jeter, who is chief executive and part owner of Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins.
“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.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Kim Coghill