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Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees – From 1936 to Today

Posted on 01/08/2015

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Article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer during Randy Johnson's rookie year (Sept. 27, 1988) On January 6, 2015, the newest inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame were announced. They were three pitchers (the first time three pitchers were elected on one ballot) and a second baseman: Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, and Craig Biggio. The three pitchers, Johnson, Smoltz, and Martinez, were on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.

The last time four players were voted in on the same ballot was in 1955, the year Joe DiMaggio was elected, two years after he was first eligible in 1953.

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New Orleans Times-Picayune (Jan. 27, 1955)

It is difficult to understand how a player like DiMaggio was not elected to the Hall of Fame until his third year of eligibility!

The inaugural class of Hall of Fame inductees in 1936 was also the largest at five: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson. Again, it is amazing that not one of these greats was a unanimous choice. Cobb received 222 votes out of a possible 226. Ruth and Mathewson each received 215. News of their election was reported coast to coast in U.S. newspapers, as seen in these examples from the Augusta Chronicle and Seattle Daily Times:

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Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle (Feb. 3, 1936)

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Seattle Daily Times (Feb. 3, 1936)

The original five 1936 inductees and 21 others elected over the next three years were formally inducted into the newly built Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, in 1939.  Detailed and often surprising information on these first 26 Hall of Famers—as well as the hundreds of other major leaguers, Negro leaguers, and managers elected since—can be easily found in America’s Historical Newspapers.

For more information about the family of newspaper series and individually available titles available through America’s Historical Newspapers, or to request a trial for your institution, please contact

For additional examples of the use of America’s Historical Newspapers for baseball history research, please see the following articles published in The Readex Report:

American Indians in Major League Baseball: Now and Then
By Royse Parr, Society of American Baseball Research

100 Years Ago in Baseball: Dead Balls, Spitters and No-Hitters
By Michael Rodriguez, Collections Coordinator for Humanities, Michigan State University Libraries

Playing Hardball: Brushing Off the Memory of a Civil Rights Giant
By Harvey M. Kahn, Humanities Reporter

“The Great Upheaval”: Tracking Jim Thorpe’s Swift Fall from Grace after the 1912 Olympics
By Kate Buford, author of Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe

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