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Remembering the first Hall of Fame class

Jan 29, 2010, 2:50 PM EDT’s Maury Brown notes that on this day in 1936 the Baseball Writers Association of America elected the first class into the Hall of Fame:
* Babe Ruth
* Ty Cobb
* Honus Wagner
* Walter Johnson
* Christy Mathewson
Not a bad little group, but amazingly none of those five players were picked unanimously. Cobb received the most votes at 98.2 percent, while one out of every 20 voters did not have Ruth on their ballot and Johnson received only 83.6 percent of the vote. Oh, and Cy Young actually had to wait until Year 2 to get into Cooperstown. Seriously.
In fairness to the voters, while Young is the winningest pitcher of all time it was another two decades until the pitching award was named after him and competition for space on that first ballot was kind of tough, as a whole bunch of future Hall of Famers received single-digit votes.
And it’s been all downhill from there, of course.

  1. moreflagsmorefun - Jan 29, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    That look’s like a All-Star team line up…… it was the first class, what else can you say.

  2. Josh in DC - Jan 29, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    Cy Young didn’t make it the first ballot because they had a vote for the best players of the 19th Century, and a vote for the best players of the 20th Century, and there was no consensus on when they were supposed to vote for Cy Young.
    In general, there was no consensus regarding the importance of play versus character (hello, Robbie Alomar!), so some writers withheld votes for Ruth based on his, uh, off-the-field activities.
    The exact stories are in Politics of Glory, so I may have the details wrong.

  3. (Not That) Tom - Jan 29, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    I hear Jon Heyman the Elder wouldn’t vote for Cy Young because he never won more than 36 games in a season.

  4. Josh in DC - Jan 29, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    I can’t believe Walter Johnson, who only won one World Series, is in the Hall of Fame and we’re still arguing about Jack Morris!
    — Murray Chass

  5. DiamondDuq - Jan 29, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    While it may seem a little silly and gets criticized annually, I agree that if Babe Ruth didn’t get unanimously selected then no one should, period! Forget being the greatest homerun hitter of all-time, and don’t give me Aaron because he had 50% more AB’s than Ruth and even 25% more homeruns gives him nearly 900, but the guy also pitched and won 94 games with 17 shutouts! There has not and will not ever be another player with even 300 homeruns and 75 wins as a pitcher!

  6. Rays fan - Jan 30, 2010 at 1:33 AM

    Poor Shoeless Joe–who knew that a lifetime ban would include eternal life?

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