The Hall of Fame inducted an unprecedented three first-time eligible candidates in George Brett, Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount. Forty-one living Hall of Famers returned for the enshrinement of three first ballot selections and four selections by the Veterans Committee: Orlando Cepeda, Nestor Chylak, Frank Selee and Joe Williams. The Ford C. Frick award for broadcast excellence was posthumously presented to Washington Senators’ broadcaster Arch McDonald and the J.G. Taylor Spink award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing went to San Francisco based writer Bob Stevens.
GEORGE BRETT: Elected in his first year on the ballot, BBWAA members named Brett on 98.19 percent of the ballots cast. The first play to win a batting title in three different decades, Brett played all 21 of his big league seasons with the Kansas City Royals. The 13-time All-Star finished his career with a .305 batting average, 317 home runs and 1596 RBI. He was the 1980 American League MVP and won a Gold Glove Award in 1985. Brett’s .390 batting average in 1980 was the highest since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.
NOLAN RYAN: Elected in his first year of eligibility, Ryan earned 98.79 percent of the votes cast to give him the second highest percentage of all-time behind Tom Seaver. Ryan pitched 27 seasons for the New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, accumulating 5,714 strikeouts, 7 no-hitters and 12 one-hitters, all big-league records. An eight-time All-Star, Ryan led the league in strikeouts 11 times. He finished his career with 324 wins and a 3.19 ERA.
ROBIN YOUNT: Elected in his first year of eligibility, Yount was named on 77.46 percent of the ballots cast. He split his career between center field and shortstop, hitting .285 with 251 home runs and 1406 RBI. Playing his entire 20-year career with the Milwaukee Brewers, he collected more hits in the 1980s than any other player and finished with an impressive career total of 3,142. An every day Major Leaguer at age 18, Yount earned MVP Awards at two positions and his 1982 MVP campaign carried the Brewers to the World Series.
ORLANDO CEPEDA: Cepeda was elected into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans’ Committee after a 17-year career that saw him top the .300 mark nine times and become a National League All-Star seven times. Cepeda played with the San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, Oakland A’s, Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals, winning Rookie of the Year in 1958 with the Giants and MVP in 1967 with the Cardinals. He was a unanimous selection for both awards, becoming the first unanimous NL MVP since Carl Hubbell in 1936. Cepeda hit .297 for his career with 379 home runs and 1365 RBI.
NESTOR CHYLAK: Elected by the Veterans’ Committee, Nestor Chylak was a skillful arbiter who earned the respect of players and managers alike during his 25-year major league career. The longtime American League crew chief worked six All-Star games, three League Championship Series and five World Series. During service in the U.S. Army in World War II, he nearly lost his eyesight in the Battle of the Bulge after being struck by shrapnel from an exploding shell. His courage merited the prestigious Silver Star and Purple Heart honors.
FRANK SELEE: A Veterans’ Committee selection, Frank Selee led the 19th century Boston Beaneaters to five pennants and transformed the struggling Chicago Cubs into champions. During his 16 years as a manager from 1890 to 1905, his teams fashioned an outstanding .599 winning percentage. Known as an impeccable judge of talent and an adept handler of players, he was the architect of the Cubs' famous double play combination - Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance. Selee’s 1892 and 1898 Boston teams were the first ever to win 100 games in a season.
JOE WILLIAMS: Voted the greatest pitcher in Negro league history in a poll conducted by the Pittsburgh Courant, “Smokey” Joe Williams was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans’ Committee. He is said to have thrown as many as 12 no-hitters and in August 1930 at age 44, he struck out 27 hitters a 12-inning win. In his career he defeated five Hall of Fame pitchers in exhibition games: Grover Alexander, Chief Bender, Waite Hoyt, Walter Johnson and Rube Marquard.