Twenty-five thousand fans shut down Main Street on July 23, 1989 to see the 50th induction class in Hall of Fame history. Along with the fans, 26 living Hall of Famers returned to see BBWAA selections Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski and Veterans Committee picks Al Barlick and Red Schoendienst. Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray was a favorite at the induction ceremony as the winner of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence. Los Angeles based writer Bob Hunter and Philadelphia’s Ray Kelly shared the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing.
JOHNNY BENCH: Named on 96.4 percent of the ballots cast in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility, Bench played all 17 of his big league seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. The 1968 National League Rookie of the Year, Bench went on to win two MVP awards, a then-record 10 Gold Glove Awards at catcher and make 14 All-Star appearances. He threw out 44 percent of would-be base stealers, including catching over 50 percent in three different seasons. A member of the Big Red Machine teams of the 1970s, the Reds played in four World Series in seven years, winning two of them. In six postseasons, Bench hit .266 with 10 home runs and 20 RBI. He retired with a record 389 home runs at catcher, 1376 RBI and a .267 career batting average.
CARL YASTRZEMSKI: Elected in his first year of eligibility, Yastrzemski was named on 94.6 percent of ballots cast. The 14-time All-Star won seven Gold Glove Awards in left field after replacing another Hall of Famer at the position in Boston, Ted Williams. Yastrzemski was named the American League MVP for the 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox after winning the Triple Crown by hitting .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBI. Boston lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series that year. A .369 postseason hitter, Yaz retired after 23 seasons with the Boston Red Sox as the franchise leader in eight major categories including games, hits and RBI. He hit .285 for his career with 452 home runs and 1844 RBI.
AL BARLICK: Relying upon a booming voice, decisive hand signals, and a superb knowledge of the rules, Al Barlick served as a National League umpire for more than three decades. With seven All-Star games and seven World Series assignments, the Veterans Committee selection developed a reputation for hustle, a stern demeanor and a strict, but fair, interpretation of the rules. Barlick was also active in the umpire’s union and was a leader in their drive for better pay and respect.
RED SCHOENDIENST: A Veterans Committee selection, Schoendinst was credited by Stan Musial as having “the greatest pair of hands I’ve ever seen.” In 19 seasons, Schoendinst played for the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants and Milwaukee Braves, leading the National League in fielding percentage six times. A 10-time All-Star, he batted .300 or better seven times and led the league with 26 stolen bases as a 22-year-old rookie in 1945. He also managed the Cardinals in parts of 13 seasons, winning two National League pennants and the 1967 World Series.