It was 75 years ago this week that the first class of the National Baseball Hall of Fame was voted on. This class of five would set the tone for absolute greatness in one of the world’s greatest sports. The inaugural class of 1936 included legendary centerfielder and all-around nice guy Ty Cobb of the Detroit Tigers (1905-28); pitcher Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators (1907-27); pitcher Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants (1900-16); right fielder, New York Yankee legend and the thorn in the side of the Boston Red Sox for 86 years, Babe Ruth (1914-35), and shortstop Honus Wagner of the Pittsburgh Pirates (1897-1917).
When the hall opened its doors in Cooperstown, NY in 1939, the Fab Five were joined by 1937 inductees, second baseman Nap Lajoie (1896-1916) and centerfield Tris Speaker (1907-28) of the Cleveland Indians. Manager Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics (1894-1950) and pitcher Cy Young of the Red Sox (1890-1911) rounded out the rest of the class. The Class of 1938 had just one player, Grover Cleveland Alexander.
The largest class at the time was 1939 and saw the enshrinement of first baseman Cap Anson of the Chicago White Stockings (1871-97); second baseman Eddie Collins of the Athletics (1906-30); catcher Buck Ewing of the New York Gothams (1880-97); first baseman Lou Gehrig of the Yankees (1923-39); right fielder Willie Keeler of the New York Highlanders (1892-1910); pitcher Charles Radbourn of the Providence Grays (1881-91) and first baseman George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns (1915-22, 1924-30).
Since the hall was established, 234 players, 20 managers, nine umpires and 32 pioneers and executives have been elected. The Class of 2011 scheduled for induction this summer will see second baseman Roberto Alomar of the Toronto Blue Jays (1988-2004) and pitcher Bert Blyleven of the Minnesota Twins (1970-92) join the long list of baseball luminaries.