From the President

By: David Baker

David Baker, President
Dave has great respect for today’s game as well as the NFL’s rich tradition and heritage. However, he is most passionate about how the traits and characteristics needed to excel in football are the same qualities that make all individuals, communities, and America strong.

This month's MVP

Apr 01, 2014
If you have ever called The Pro Football Hall of Fame, there’s a good chance you’ve heard an energetic and friendly voice state “It’s a Great Day at the Pro Football Hall of Fame! How may I help you?!”

That voice belongs to Pat Bearducci, our Box Office Lead Attendant. Pat’s enjoying the second half of her work career. She joined our team nearly eight years ago after a successful 32-year tenure as a school teacher. And, on Monday morning in our monthly “team huddle,” (aka staff meeting), I was proud to designate her as this month’s MVP!

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s mission includes the celebration of excellence EVERYWHERE.

Pat, day-in and day-out, illustrates that commitment by example when greeting our guests or answering our phone, and today our entire team thanks her for her excellent effort!

A Super Bowl of Champions

Jan 28, 2014

I can’t miss in this Super Bowl.

I’ve got two good friends competing and can cheer for both!

John Elway
, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Broncos is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was one of my best owners and the former Chairman of the Board when I was Commissioner of the Arena Football League. He won an Arena Bowl Championship with the Colorado Crush and once said it was more satisfying than the Super Bowl. That was something even I, as Commissioner of the League, questioned. He responded that in his five Super Bowls and two championships, he only played one position but as an AFL owner he was involved at EVERY position. Can you imagine how gratifying this Super Bowl must be?


Seahawks coach Pete Carroll coached my son, Sammy, in Sam’s five seasons (including his redshirt year) at USC. During that time, the Trojans won two national titles and three Rose Bowl Championships, including, at one point, a 35-game winning streak. Pete is THE MOST POSITIVE MAN IN THE UNIVERSE.  He’s got a philosophy that he believes in and is deeply committed to. Interestingly, I think most of it was sorted out when he was out of work after leaving the NFL but before coming to USC. It’s a positive philosophy that values competition and enables every player to be his own coach on the field.

These are two world-class individuals who love to “compete!” I’m going to enjoy seeing either one of these men hoist the Lombardi Trophy!

It’s going to be a great game!

Canton’s Own Hall of Famer

Jan 21, 2014


He’ll never have a bronze bust, a Gold Jacket or a Hall of Fame ring, but Steve Perry has led an uncommon life of achievement and integrity.

Steve’s father had no money and did not speak English but he dreamed of a better life and immigrated to Canton, Ohio from Cape Verde, a poor island in the Atlantic, 350 miles off the West African coast. Steve’s mother and father worked long and hard; his father in a factory and his mother cleaning homes. Their eleven kids helped take care of each other and Steve’s family was and is, today, his Team!

It was a humble beginning offering an abundance of life lessons that propelled Steve to places that his parents could only dream of. He graduated from the University of Akron, got his Masters from Stanford University, worked his way up from the stationery stockroom to become the Senior Vice President of the Timken Company, ran the administration for the Governor of Ohio and the General Services Administration for the President of the United States.

For nearly eight years, Steve has served with honor as President/Executive Director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has presided over the enshrinement of 51 Hall of Famers, overseen more than $40 million of renovations and expansions to the Hall of Fame campus as well as the Hall’s 50th Anniversary celebration. He has done it with polish, integrity and grace that would make Walter Payton smile, Deion Sanders blush, John Madden gush and Jim Thorpe, a onetime Canton resident himself, grin with pride for one of Canton’s own.

On Saturday night, the community of Canton and the Trustees and Staff of the Hall of Fame honored Steve Perry at his retirement dinner.

When Thomas Jefferson was named our country’s Ambassador to France, the King asked if he was the man who was “replacing” the famous Benjamin Franklin. The wise Jefferson responded that he was the man who “succeeds” Mr. Franklin because “no man could replace him.”

Just like Jefferson, I “succeed” Steve Perry because no man could ever “replace” him.

Personally, I think Steve’s just warming up, but to me, he’ll always be Canton’s own Hall of Famer.

Going to Canton

Jan 14, 2014


Anyone who competes in sports understands the euphemism. It’s a reference to greatness, immortality and excellence. It’s the vision of football heaven, athletic enshrinement and a temple to professional excellence.

The “Road to Canton” is one of passionate perseverance and dogged diligence and every story is spectacular with its inspiration and hope.

But for me, my Road to Canton resulted with one of the coldest days in Canton’s history, with the thermometer reading -11 and a wind chill of -34 degrees. It was my first day as the President and Executive Director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Being from Orange County, California, I had never before scraped a windshield covered with ice and snow or had to pry open a car door that was frozen shut. I have to confess that once inside the car as my wife and I could see our every breath in the shivering cold, we both looked at each other with a smile that then turned into a laugh and said in unison “What are we doing here?”

But after a short drive and an adventure of seemingly ice skating to the front door of the Hall of Fame, our adventure was not only validated but inspired. This is a place of GREATNESS. It is the Sistine Chapel to which only the greatest in the game who represent the most exceptional values of the game are enshrined. It’s not just the place where the game began it’s a place that God has His season seats, so that like Michelangelo’s creator, He can touch the likes of Jim Thorpe, Red Grange, Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Joe Namath and so many others enshrined here in whom at magic moments of intense competition God breathed greatness into their talent, perseverance into their character and courage into their leadership.

It is a place of dedicated staff and a community of committed citizens that honor the legends of the game, preserve its storied past and promote the integrity of the game’s values that have helped shape the American culture and make our country GREAT.

The game is a metaphor for the rest of life. There are lessons here that can make every child stronger, every family closer, every business better, every community care and our country great.

EVERY DAY IS A GREAT DAY IN CANTON! Not because of the weather but because of the purpose and the people.

We LOVE Canton and are PROUD to call it home!