The Hall of Fame Class of 1953 featured eight electees
On June 12, 1939, Dizzy Dean stepped onto the mound on Doubleday Field in the inaugural Hall of Fame Game, held during the weekend of the Museum’s founding. Just over 14 years later, on July 27, 1953, he exchanged his baseball uniform for a suit, as he stepped onto the stage to accept his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I never dreamed my plaque would be in the Hall of Fame when I was pitchin’ in that Dedication Game back in 1939,” said Dean to the Sporting News . “I’ll be mighty proud when I see myself in the shrine along with the other wonderful fellows.”
Whether or not Dean was able to dream of his eventual Hall of Fame Induction, he certainly made his mark during his 12 years in baseball. A four-time All-Star, he won 150 games with 1,163 strikeouts and a 3.02 career ERA. He peaked in 1934 when he won the NL MVP Award and registered 30 wins.
The 1953 National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony featured the induction of Dean and Al Simmons. Later that year, on Sept. 28, the Veterans Committee elected Ed Barrow, Chief Bender, Tom Connolly, Bill Klem, Bobby Wallace and Harry Wright – who were honored at the 1954 Induction Ceremony but considered members of the Class of 1953.
Five Hall of Famers returned for the 1953 Induction Ceremony: Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Ed Walsh, Rogers Hornsby and Connie Mack. In his Texas-Arkansas drawl, Dean looked at the five legends sitting behind him on stage, and insisted that “them’s the kind of ball players I’d like to have had behind me all the time.”
Simmons, who spoke shortly after Dean, used his time in the spotlight to honor Mack. The Associated Press quoted Simmons as saying that “in the first nine years under Mr. Mack, I was a great ball player under his guidance. He was the greatest man I ever met in my life.”
Under Mack’s guidance, Simmons hit .359, leading the majors in 1931, with .390. He still holds the single-season record for hits by a right-handed batter with 253, collected in 1925.
Bender, who also played under Mack, would pass away on May 22, 1954. He retired with a career record of 212-127, with a .625 winning percentage. Mack praised Bender for his dependability, insisting that “if everything depended on one game, I just used Albert (Bender’s middle name) – the greatest money pitcher of all time.”
Wallace, one of the most versatile players of his time, spent 60 years working and playing in baseball. His best season came in 1897 when he drove in 173 hits and batted .335.
Wright was credited with founding one of the first all-professional baseball teams – the Cincinnati Red Stockings – who had a perfect record of 57-0 in 1869. Klem oversaw 18 World Series.
Officiating the first American League game in 1901, and Connolly was known for his innate ability to control the game, and once had a 10 season-span without a single ejection.
Barrow, an executive, manager and league president, was credited with building the New York Yankees organization into a winning franchise – overseeing 14 pennant and 10 World Series victories.
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It was only fitting that Cy Young – who was present for the Museum’s inauguration – spoke on behalf of his fellow Hall of Famers. Young thanked the fans, saying “we feel so proud that baseball has done so much for its players. We feel deeply humble in our appreciation for we ball players love the game and thank all you fans who have journeyed to this shrine of baseball through the years.”
Alex Coffey was the communications specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame
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