Confirming earlier reports, Hall-of-Fame president and CEO David Baker on Saturday announced his retirement to return to his home, family and business projects in California and Nevada.
Jim Porter, 57, the Hall’s chief marketing and operations officer since 2020, will take his place.
The 68-year-old Baker will, however, continue to represent the Hall as its retired president and executive director at this season's Ring of Excellence ceremonies honoring members of the Classes of 2020 and 2021, the Hall said.
“As I approach nearly eight years of service to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I have come to the conclusion that is time for someone else to have ‘the best job in the world,’ “ Baker said in a prepared statement, “so I can still do a few more exciting things in my professional life, while also returning to our four children, 10 grandchildren and soon-to-be great grandson in Orange County, California, whom I missed so much during my tenure at ‘The Most Inspiring Place on Earth.’
“Accordingly, effective immediately, I am removing myself from all day-to-day operations so my wife, Colleen, and I can begin our move home, but still be available for ceremonial duties in the comings weeks ahead.”
Under Baker’s leadership, the Hall experienced unprecedented growth, with an expanded stadium and Hall of Fame Village. In fact, it was Baker who launched the ambitious Hall-of-Fame Village, a for-profit concept distinct from the non-profit Hall of Fame.
Baker is best remembered as the individual who introduced “The Knock” as a means of informing Hall-of-Fame candidates of their inductions. He would bang on the doors of hotel rooms where candidates were sequestered – or, as was the case during the COVID pandemic, on the doors of their homes or places of business – to inform them that they’d been elected.
“David Baker lifted the Pro Football Hall of Fame to new heights,” said Dennis Nash, chairman of the Hall’s board of trustees. “He helped make the words “Canton” and “excellence” synonymous.”
In 2017, Baker was awarded the prestigious March of Dimes Sports Leadership Award. One year later, the Pro Football Hall of Fame was voted the best attraction for sports fans in USA Today’s 10-Best Readers’ Choice Awards.
“Few people,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, “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 footprint national 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.”