It was on June 12, 1939 that the Baseball Hall of Fame opened in Cooperstown, New York.
At the time it was thought that Cooperstown was the birthplace of Baseball with Abner Doubleday inventing the game. Using this claim hotel owner Stephen Carlton Clark opened the Hall as a way to bring tourists to the town which had been in decline due to the depression. Even though it has now been proven that Doubleday didn’t invent Baseball the city continues to be the location of the Baseball Museum and the Hall of Fame.
It took three years to open the Hall of Fame since the idea began in 1936 and the first five men elected were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson, chosen in 1936. By the 1939 opening 20 more had been selected. In all as of January 2013, 300 individuals had been elected to the Hall of Fame, including 208 former major league players, 35 Negro leaguers, 19 managers, 10 umpires, and 28 pioneers, executives, and organizers.
Currently players are inducted into the Hall of Fame through election by either the Baseball Writers Association of America (or BBWAA), or the Veterans Committee. Players who have been retired from the game for five years and had 10 years of major league experience are selected by a screening committee placed on the ballot and are elected by BBWAA members with 10 years’ membership or more.
Many of the players inducted in the Hall of Fame played for more than one team and some had big success on multiple teams. Prior to 2001 the Hall of Fame deferred to the wishes of the player on the team log that his cap would display. Catfish Hunter, who had great seasons with both the New York Yankees and Kansas City/Oakland A’s decided to have no logo on his cap. Now the Hall of Fame decides based on where that player makes his most indelible mark.
The 2013 Induction Weekend will be held July 26-29 with the Induction on July 28. The BBWAA for the first time since 1966 did not elect anyone to the Hall of Fame. The Veterans Committee did elect three men. These are Hank O’Day, an Umpire, Jacob Ruppert, a Baseball Executive and Deacon White, who was a catcher during the beginning days of baseball in the 19th Century.