The Hall of Fame’s membership grew to 81 on July 23, 1956 when the BBWAA elected Hank Greenberg and Joe Cronin. Under cloudy skies on the front steps of the Hall of Fame and Museum, Commissioner Ford Frick introduced the inductees who both mentioned John McGraw, who was seated onstage, in their speeches.
HANK GREENBERG: Named on 85 percent of ballots cast in his ninth year of eligibility, Greenberg played the first 12 years of his 13 year career with the Detroit Tigers, before retiring after one year with the Pittsburgh Pirates. A four-time American League home run champion, Greenberg’s 58 home runs in 1938 were the second highest single season total, behind Babe Ruth’s 60, until Roger Maris hit 61. Greenberg drove in 183 runs in 1937, the third highest single season total ever, behind Lou Gehrig and Hack Wilson. Greenberg did not win either of his two MVP Awards in either year season, winning A.L. MVP in both 1935 and 1940. In 1935 he hit .328 with 36 home runs and 170 RBI, while hitting .340 with 41 homers and 150 runs driven in during his 1940 campaign. Greenberg lost three and a half seasons of his career to fighting in World War II, but still hit 331 home runs, drove in 1,276 runs and hit .313.