Important dates in the development of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum started with the myth that the game was invented in Cooperstown, NY.
December 30, 1907
The task force created by baseball luminary A.G. Spalding to determine the origins of the sport, now known as the “Mills Commission,” declares first that the game is of American origin, and second that Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown, N.Y. in 1939.
Sept. 6, 1920
Cooperstown’s Doubleday Field, a pasture that locals had cleared and leveled into a ball field, officially opens with a game between Milford and Cooperstown. John Heydler, president of the National League, umpires the first inning.
Aug. 3, 1934
New York Lt. Governor M. William Bray formally rededicates Doubleday Field after a major renovation under the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
Stephen C. Clark, a Cooperstown philanthropist, purchases an old baseball discovered in a farmhouse in nearby Fly Creek. Soon dubbed the “Doubleday baseball” for its supposed connection to baseball’s earliest history, it is included in the first display of baseball objects that will grow into the Museum’s collection.
Feb. 2, 1936
Results of the first vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame are announced. Members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America elect Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner. Plans begin for a 1939 celebration of baseball’s supposed centenary, and another round of improvements for Doubleday Field.
Feb. 28, 1937
In a letter to National Baseball Museum executive secretary Alexander Cleland, the legendary Cy Young promises to send artifacts from his playing career – including the baseball from his 500th win – for the Museum to keep in perpetuity. Other players begin to follow his example.
June 12, 1939
The National Baseball Museum – as it was then called – is officially dedicated in Cooperstown. Organized Baseball pauses as the game’s executives and immortals take part in the ceremony, and major league players enjoy a special exhibition game at Doubleday Field.
July 25, 1950
The Museum’s first major expansion, including the current entrance, is dedicated. Hall of Famers Tris Speaker, Mickey Cochrane, Cy Young, Ed Walsh and Charlie Gehringer attend, along with National League president Ford Frick.
June 29, 1956
The Museum welcomes its one millionth visitor: John H. Morrissey of Bronxville, N.Y.
Aug. 4, 1958
The oak and marble Plaque Gallery is officially dedicated at the Museum by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick.
July 23, 1962
Jackie Robinson becomes the first African-American baseball player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
October 5, 1962
J.G. Taylor Spink, longtime publisher and editor of The Sporting News, is named the first recipient of the annual award that bears his name, honoring a career contribution to baseball writing. Each award-winner will have permanent place in the Museum
July 22, 1968
The National Baseball Library building is dedicated in Cooper Park. It contains new areas to store and research the written, printed, recorded and photographic history of the game.
Feb. 9, 1971
To acknowledge those barred from the segregated major leagues, the “Committee on Negro Baseball Leagues” elects their first player to the Hall of Fame, Satchel Paige.
Oct. 21, 1977
The Museum welcomes its five millionth visitor: Elaine Parachini of Silver Spring, Md.
Aug. 7, 1978
Mel Allen and Red Barber are celebrated as the first two winners of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence.
May 10, 1980
The West Wing expansion of the Museum officially opens, featuring expanded archival space and an indoor connection between the Museum’s Plaque Gallery and the Library building.
June 12, 1989
The Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary in a ceremony attended by NY Governor Mario Cuomo and Baseball Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti. The day’s events include an old-timers’ game and the introduction of a Lou Gehrig postage stamp.
Aug. 9, 1995
The Museum welcomes its ten millionth visitor: Brett Hornby of Glen Ridge, N.J.
July 29, 2006
A three-year, $20 million Museum renovation project is officially finished and dedicated.
July 28, 2007
A record crowd of an estimated 82,000 baseball fans attends the annual Induction Ceremony to see Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. receive their Hall of Fame plaques.
May 22, 2014
President Barack Obama becomes the first sitting U.S. President to visit the Museum.
June 12, 2014
Museum celebrates its 75th anniversary.
Groundbreaking for Hall of Fame expansion in 1949: Museum founder Stephen C. Clark (with shovel) flanked by Museum director Robert Quinn (left) and National League president Ford Frick (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)