The Hall of Fame Class of 1953 featured eight inductees

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Alex Coffey

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 saw an integration of baseball’s distant, and more recent, histories. Eight players were inducted that year, with six living inductees. It was the most living inductees since 1939, the Museum’s inaugural Induction Ceremony.

Five Hall of Famers returned for the 1953 event: 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.”

Al Simmons, who spoke shortly after Dean, used his time in the spotlight to honor Connie 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.

Chief Bender, who also played under Mack, would pass away the following year – but lived to see his own induction. 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.”

Voted in by the Veterans Committee – along with Bender and four more inductees that year – was Bobby Wallace. One of the most versatile players of his time, he spent 60 years working and playing in baseball. His best season came in 1897 when he drove in 173 hits and batted .335.

The 1953 Ceremony also saw two umpires, Bill Klem and Tom Connolly, and two executives, Harry Wright and Ed Barrow, inducted. Wright and Klem were inducted posthumously. The former was credited with founding the first all-professional baseball team – the Cincinnati Red Stockings – who had a perfect record of 57-0 in 1869. The latter, inducted as an umpire, oversaw 18 World Series, and was the first umpire to use visible arm signals to call his games.

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The two new BBWAA-elected Hall of Fame inductees pose with existing members of the Hall of Fame, on Doubleday Field. Picture from left to right, is Ty Cobb, Al Simmons, Dizzy Dean, Cy Young, Connie Mack, Ed Walsh and Rogers Hornsby. (National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Connolly and Barrow, however, lived to see their induction in the Hall of Fame. 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.

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 is the communications specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series