Baseball should have enjoyed its annual Hall of Fame inductions last weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y. There were some roadblocks.
COVID-19, for instance, was the reason.
“The museum,” said Hall of Fame President Tim Mead, “shut down for 102 days because of COVID-19.”
Every day, he says, “is a learning experience.”
Mead is the former L.A. Angels executive who retired before taking over as president of the Baseball Hall of Fame museum in historical Cooperstown, an upstate New York city.
It’s a long way from those Highland digs he spent as a youth.
“We’re two days after what should’ve been our annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies,” Mead said on Tuesday, July 28.
Baseball fans know the names of those inductees ⎯ Derek Jeter, Ted Simmons, Larry Walker and Marvin Miller.
Jeter, who had an unparalleled career playing shortstop for the Yankees, might have been considered the headliner of the bunch.
Simmons, a catcher with plenty of impressive numbers during his career in which he was contemporaries with Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk, got the nod from the vet committee after sports writers previously turned him down.
Walker was a remarkable hitter, a National League MVP.
Miller started the players' union in 1966, which eventually led to free agency and a change in baseball that's been unforgettable.
Mead, a 1976 graduate of San Gorgonio High School, handles interviews well, smoothly, and doesn't take umbrage with any question or policy.
While baseball was enjoying its season-openers last weekend, coincidentally, it would’ve been the annual Hall of Fame ceremonies in Cooperstown.
No, there weren’t live ceremonies.
Instead, Mead presided over virtual events between last Thursday through Sunday, July 23-26.
“Jon Shestakofsky,” he said, “headed up all of that.”
Shestakofsky, a Hall of Fame vice president in charge of communications and education, came up with a creative plan to replace the live inductions. Bruce Broderson, director of multimedia, was another mastermind on the project, Mead said.
Jeter and Simmons, plus Walker and Miller, who was the players’ union, were featured in the best possible way.
“We were able to sit there,” said Mead, “and watch everybody else’s work. We needed to put those gentlemen’s stories out there.”
Each was in the spotlight over one-hour “Legends of the Fame” programs that started at 3 p.m. on Thursday through Sunday. Yes, the switches were related to COVID-19 restrictions.
• Miller ⎯ Hall of Famer Dave Winfield reflected on the late Miller’s impact on labor and baseball, having served from 1966-82.
• Walker ⎯ The first-ever Canadian elected to the Hall of Fame, pitcher Ferguson Jenkins was featured discussing with fellow countryman on playing baseball in their home country, eventually earning a spot in Cooperstown.
• Simmons was part of a Milwaukee Brewers’ power-hitting lineup in 1982, along with fellow Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Robin Yount ⎯ the trio reminiscing on that pennant-winning squad.
• Jeter, part of five World Series titles between 1996 and 2009, was joined by his former manager, Joe Torre, along with Rivera ⎯ reflecting on moments that helped shape that New York Yankees’ dynasty.
Mead is well into his second year as president of the Cooperstown museum.
Happy he took the post after spending 40 years working for the Angels?
“Two words,” he said.
Mead is well into his 42nd year in baseball.
If there’s an absolute moment of joy, he can’t say.
“I spent 40 years with the Angels. Rather than pick out a moment, I say, ‘It’s the whole thing.’ There’s a different experience every day.”