Ten new members were elected into the Hall of Fame by way of the Veterans’ Committee in 1945. Headlining the list inducted on July 10, 1945, was a pair of power hitting players, Dan Brouthers and Ed Delahanty in an era featuring place hitters like Jimmy Collins and Hugh Duffy who were also elected. Fred Clarke, Hugh Jennings, and Wilbert Robinson excelled as both player-managers in their illustrious careers. Jim O’Rourke, owner of the National League’s first ever hit joins the class as well as the second catcher ever to be elected into the Hall of Fame, Roger Bresnahan. Rounding out the class of 1945, the flamboyant King Kelly who was as flashy and daring as a baseball player comes.
ROGER BRESNAHAN: Throughout his 17-year career, Bresnahan was used in all nine positions on the field. A true athlete of his time, Bresnahan starred primarily at catcher for the New York Giants from 1902-1908. Teamed with fellow Hall of Famer, Christy Mathewson, he was known for his defensive ability at the catcher position as well as his leadership during his career. He became the second catcher ever to be inducted.
DAN BROUTHERS: Brouthers was one of the best power-hitting first basemen during late 19th century which enabled him to be elected by to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans’ Committee. He won five batting titles in his 19-year career where he starred for a variety of teams including a member of the “big four” for the Buffalo Bisons from 1881-1885. Brouthers had a lifetime batting average of .349 and had a home run total over 100 which was a rare feat accomplished before 1900.
FRED CLARKE: One of the greatest player-managers of all-time, Clarke joined the Hall of Fame after amassing 2,703 career hits and 1,602 managerial wins. With a career average of .315, Clarke hit over the .300 mark 11 different times with the Louisville Colonels and Pittsburgh Pirates. In 16 seasons as player-manager, Clarke won the division 14 times.
JIMMY COLLINS: Known for his wizardry in the field at third base, Collins fame came from being able to make any play on a ball in the vicinity of third. A stellar hitter as well, Collins hit .300 or better five times with a career best .346 coming in 1897 for the Boston Beaneaters. In 1903, Collins led the Boston Red Sox to their first ever World Championship and will be forever remembered for his ability to affect the other team’s willingness to sacrifice bunt due to his remarkable fielding.
ED DELAHANTY: A Veterans’ Committee selection, Delahanty was often considered one of the few power hitters of the later 1800s and early 1900s primarily for the Phildelphia Phillies where he starred for 11 seasons. He hit for power and average, finishing his career with 101 home runs and a .346 batting average that ranks fourth all-time. Delahanty also eclipsed the .400 mark twice in his career leading the National League in 1899 with a .408 average.
HUGH DUFFY: Duffy shined in the outfield during his playing days for the Boston Beaneaters. An exceptional two-way player, his defensive prowess was not too be outmatched by his ability in the batter’s box, hitting .300 or better in ten straight seasons. Duffy hit a career best .438 in 1894 and led the National League with 50 doubles and 18 home runs as well.
HUGH JENNINGS: Jennings was a superb shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles from 1893-1899 where he led is team to four straight appearances in the Temple Cup World Championship Series. A defensive master as he led the league in fielding average three times, Jennings collected a lifetime average of .314 in 17 seasons. Jennings also managed 16 seasons taking home three American League pennants for Detroit.
KING KELLY: “Slide, Kelly, Slide” was often heard during the career of Chicago Nationals right fielder, King Kelly. Known for his colorful personality and daring base running, Kelly was a fan favorite throughout his playing days. He led the Nationals to five pennants where he hit for a career average of .313. His career is noted for his trade to the Boston Beaneaters for $10,000, a record price at the time. In his first season with the Beaneaters he hit .394 with 84 stolen bases.
JIM O’ROURKE: The term veteran personifies O’Rourke better than any baseball player in history as in 1904, he took the field as a 50-year old catcher for the New York Giants making him the oldest player ever to play the game. In his early playing days, O’Rourke was able to win six pennants in seven years with the Boston Red Stockings. He went on to hit .314 in his career capturing a National League batting title in 1884 by hitting .350. In 1888 and ’89 he was a member of the New York Giants’ first two league championship teams. O’Rourke is credited with being the owner of the National League’s first ever hit.
WILBERT ROBINSON: A successful player-manager, Robinson first claimed fame as a rugged catcher for the Baltimore Orioles where he set a record for 7 hits in a 9-inning game. “Uncle Robbie” then took the path as manager where he won 1,397 games mainly with the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1914-1931. He led the team to the first two World Series in franchise history in 1916 and 1920.