Do You Know the Four Hall of Famers Who Missed their Own Induction in the Same Year?
Originally the Hall of Fame wanted fans from across the country to vote for the inductees, but it was realized that vote could be very subjective, resulting in a popularity contest. Instead a six man board of baseball officials determined that the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) would select players from the twentieth Century while a special Committee of Old Timers would select nineteenth Century baseball individuals. Getting nineteenth century baseball individuals in the Hall of Fame would take time, but it is much better now.The one thing that started then and has never changed is that inductees had to receive 75% of the vote for induction whether it was the BBWAA or a Veterans Committee. There was a lot of confusion as no nineteenth century player received the necessary 75% vote. The Hall of Fame then decided to choose a Centennial Commission (at the time it was believed that baseball had started 100 years ago in Cooperstown.) This Commission in 1937 then selected inductees for outstanding service to baseball apart from playing the game. As a result two long serving and highly successful managers, Connie Mack and John McGraw were selected.
So as we wrote about in a previous column the first induction ceremony took place in 1939 when the Hall of Fame was opened. This included the induction classes from 1936 through 1939. There were over 10,000 people there, but the next induction ceremony wasn’t held until 1946 because of World War II. . Commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who had died at the end of 1944, was honored as 2,000 people attended.
The third induction ceremony took place in 1947 when 21 inductees selected by the Old Timers committees in 1945 and 1946 would be honored. The highlight however, was the BBWAA selection of four inductees. Those selected were pitcher, Carl Hubbell who finished first with 87.9% in his third year of eligibility. Second baseman, Frankie Frisch finished second with 84.5% in his sixth year of eligibility. Catcher, Mickey Cochrane finished third with 79.5% in his sixth year of eligibility. Finishing fourth was pitcher Lefty Grove with 76.4% in his fourth year of eligibility.
Many of the 21 inductees from 1945 and 1946 had passed away, but a number were still alive , but only one came, spitball pitcher Ed Walsh. The biggest shock however was that none of the four 1947 inductees came! All four of them eventually came in the future, but none in their induction year! As a result there were only 2,000 attendees. Also, my book Induction Day at Cooperstown A History of the Baseball Hall of Fame Ceremony has a picture of Walsh giving his induction speech on the front cover!
The main reason that the four inductees didn’t show and many other living Hall of Famers didn’t come often is because they had to pay for their expenses! The Hall of Fame finally changed things for the better in the 1960’s when they took care of the transportation and hotel expenses for those Hall of Famers in attendance. Thus, just about every year now, at least 40 plus Hall of Famers attend the induction ceremony.
I would like to share with you a nice experience I had at the Pine Island Post in Davie, Florida where I write the same story each month that I write on my Blog. I had the opportunity to meet a nice lady there in November, who was visiting friends. She bought my book because she wanted to read it and then share it with her son-in-law, Al Leiter, the former Major League pitcher! Her name was Dana Salsburg and it was an honor to have met her.
I know that many of you or someone you know have a nice memory of visiting the Hall of Fame. One example is Hall of Famer, Fergie Jenkins, who shared with us his nice memory during his own induction in 1991, that we wrote about in a previous column. So let us know so I can consider it for my book sequel in the future like I will do with Fergie’s nice memory.