First BBWAA election in 1936 produced historic ballot
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Newspaper reports of the day indicated that Henry Edwards, the secretary of the BBWAA in charge of the vote tabulation committee, was “amazed” when – after Ruth and Cobb each received unanimous support on the first 100 ballots – Ruth was left off one ballot. Moments later, a ballot lacking Cobb’s name was found – also provoking an astonished response.
Both Ruth and Cobb, however, cleared the 75-percent mark with ease.
Legendary second baseman Napoleon Lajoie came the closest to election without making it, finishing sixth with 146 votes (64.60 percent). Tris Speaker was seventh (133 votes, 58.84 percent), followed by Cy Young (111 votes, 49.11 percent), Rogers Hornsby (105 votes, 46.46 percent) and Mickey Cochrane (80 votes, 35.40 percent).
Only Hornsby and Cochrane were active players at the time of the vote, and only Cochrane was still a regular.
Lajoie, Speaker and Young were all elected to the Hall of Fame in 1937, with Hornsby joining them in 1942. Cochrane was elected in 1947.
For Cobb, Ruth, Wagner, Mathewson and Johnson, enshrinement came on June 12, 1939, when the Hall of Fame opened its doors for the first time.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum