Before a then-record crowd of 2,500 fans and 21 previously inducted Hall of Famers, Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle were elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA. Enshrined at the August 12, 1974 induction along with the former Yankee teammates were Cool Papa Bell, Jocko Conlan, Jim Bottomley and Sam Thompson. There were three recipients of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing: former New York Times writer John Kieran, Warren Brown, who wrote for a number of Chicago newspapers, and John Drebinger, a 41-year veteran of the New York Times.
WHITEY FORD: Elected in his second year of eligibility, Ford was named on 77.8 percent of ballots cast. Playing all 17 years of his career with the New York Yankees, his 236 as a Yankee are the most by any player in pinstripes. He paced the American League in wins three times, including a career high of 25 in his 1961 Cy Young Award winning season. Ford made eight All-Stars and is one of the best postseason pitchers ever. His 10 wins and 94 strikeouts in the Fall Classic are a record, and he once tossed 33 consecutive shutout innings in the World Series. The Yankees won 11 A.L. pennants during Ford’s career, capturing the title six times. He retired with a 2.74 ERA, 1,956 strikeouts and a .690 winning percentage, the best of any twentieth century pitcher.
MICKEY MANTLE: A first ballot Hall of Famer named on 88.2 percent of ballots, the Yankees were also the only team Mantle suited up for in 18 seasons. Statistically the most powerful switch-hitter of all-time, he was a 16-time All-Star, three-time American League MVP and won a Gold Glove Award in 1962. He led the A.L. in home runs four times, but his most memorable total was in 1961 when Roger Maris beat him to Babe Ruth’s record of 60. A winner of seven World Series and 12 A.L. pennants with the Yankees, Mantle hit 18 October home runs and drove in 40 runs. He retired with a .298 batting average, 536 home runs and 1,509 runs batted in.
COOL PAPA BELL: Among the most illustrious players in Negro league baseball history, James Cool Papa Bell was noted for his incredible speed on the basepaths, excellence as a leadoff hitter and his superb defensive play as a center fielder. Inducted by the Negro Leagues Committee, he began his career as a pitcher, but his other talents ensured his future as an everyday player. Bell's career lasted 20 years with teams such as the St. Louis Stars, Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Homestead Grays.
JIM BOTTOMLEY: Selected by the Veterans Committee, Bottomley played 16 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Browns. He topped 100 RBI six straight seasons, twice leading the National League. Bottomley won the N.L. MVP in 1928 when he hit .325 and led the league with 20 triples, 31 home runs and 136 runs batted in. The lowest batting average he posted in the first 11 years of his career was .296, and he retired with a .310 average. Bottomley also hit 219 home runs and led the Cardinals to two World Series titles.
JOCKO CONLAN: Jocko Conlan became an umpire by accident. When Red Ormsby was overcome by the heat while umpiring a 1935 game between the White Sox and Browns, Conlan, an outfielder with the Chisox, was asked to fill in. The following year he launched his new career. A polka-dot tie, balloon chest protector and quick grin became his trademarks. Conlan won the respect of players and managers alike with his hustle, accuracy and fairness. Selected by the Veterans Committee, he also umpired in five World Series.
SAM THOMPSON: A Veterans Committee selection, Thompson played 15 seasons for the Detroit Wolverines, Philadelphia Quakers, Philadelphia Phillies and Detroit Tigers. He collected 200 or more hits three times and over 100 runs batted in eight times, including 166 in 1887, 147 in 1894 and 165 in 1895. Thompson hit .362 in the 1887 World Series as his Wolverines beat the St. Louis Cardinals. He hit 126 career home runs, a high number in the Dead Ball Era and retired with a .336 batting average.