CANTON, Ohio — David Baker, the president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has announced his retirement from the position, stepping down from day-to-day operations effectively immediately.
Baker was named president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, located in Canton, in January 2014. Before joining the HOF, Baker played professional basketball in Europe, served as a City Councilman in Irvine, California, and was the commissioner of the Arena Football League.
With the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Baker helped establish the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village, a nearly $900 million mixed-use development surrounding the Hall of Fame, in addition to supporting causes to promote health in former athletes and their families, and brining the Black College Hall of Fame to Canton.
Baker said he decided to retire to "return to his home, family and business projects in California and Nevada."
“As I approach the end of nearly eight years of service to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for someone else to have the ‘best job in the world’ so I can still do a few more exciting things in my professional life while also returning home to our four children, 10 grandchildren and soon-to-be great grandson in Orange County, California, whom I’ve missed so much during my tenure at ‘The Most Inspiring Place on Earth,’ Baker said in a press release.
While Baker will no longer be involved in the day-to-day operations of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he will continue to represent the HOF at upcoming ceremonies for the remainder of the schedule as the retired President and Executive Director, including the Pro Football Hall of Fame at Ring of Excellence ceremonies.
Jim Porter, the Hall of Fame’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer since April 2020, has been named President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He will now will oversee all daily business operations.
Porter, 57, is a lifelong resident of Stark County and joined the HOF after spending 33 years in print journalism.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell praised Baker's contributions to the league and to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Few people combine vision, passion and dedication as completely as David Baker. In seven years as president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, David expanded the Hall’s brand nationally and footprint locally in Canton, Ohio. The growth he envisioned led to the expansion of the Hall of Fame, spread to downtown Canton and will continue to have a tremendous impact on the future of the Hall for decades to come," Goodell said in a press release.
Canton Mayor Thomas Bernabei issued the following statement regarding Baker's retirement announcement:
David Baker came to Canton in January 2014. He brought with him an extraordinary vision for growing the Hall of Fame and creation of the Hall of Fame Village.
His physical stature –6’9’’ and @400 lbs is so recognizable – but his size is over shadowed by his even larger vision.
That vision has been in part implemented: national recognition and growth of the Hall of Fame and construction of Tom Benson Stadium and youth fields. And much more is being implemented and built at the Village today and tomorrow!
His “Knock on the Door” and “Welcome to Canton” to newly selected HOF Gold Jackets has given Canton and the HOF national attention. He has made the words “Canton” and “excellence” synonymous.
He is a personality of national standing in his own right. He is a mesmerizing speaker – no one wants to follow David Baker to the speakers podium. He could be the lead anchor on ESPN or a pre-game NFL show.
I thank him for the 7 years he has given Canton, for the vision and leadership he brought to the Hall, and for his allegiance to Canton. I wish him all the best -- he has a beautiful wife, Colleen, a beautiful family and I understand his desire to enjoy them!!
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