Class of ’73 brought Clemente to Cooperstown
“Watching Spahn for the first time go into his delivery was an aesthetic experience,” sportswriter Al Silverman wrote. “The Spahn windup was the most picturesque, most graceful, the most beautiful windup I had ever seen.”
Spahn was also able to maintain his health, pitching in the Major Leagues until he was 44 years old, winning a career-high 23 games at age 42.
Monte Irvin, the other living inductee in 1973, became one of the first black players in the Major Leagues after Jackie Robinson. Before reaching the majors though, he played for the Newark Eagles in the Negro League. With the Eagles, Irvin won two Negro League batting championships and hit .422 in 1940.
The left fielder signed with the New York Giants in 1949 and was an All-Star in 1952. He only played eight years in the majors, but nevertheless recorded 731 hits. He helped lead New York to the 1951 pennant and hit .458 in the Fall Classic as the Giants fell to the Yankees. In 1954, he won a World Series ring.
“He is not only a great hitter, but also a tremendous baserunner,” Giants’ manager Leo Durocher said. “He is (also) a great outfielder and throws with a great arm. What more can you ask?”
Michael “Smiling Mickey” Welch was a pitcher for the Troy Trojans and the New York Giants in the late 1800s. He won 307 games in his career and led the majors in winning percentage in 1885 with an .800 percentage and a 44-11 overall record.
“Few men of the diamond occupied a warmer place in the hearts of the fans,” wrote the New York Times in 1941 after Welch passed away. “He was esteemed by countless admirers not only for his skill on the mound but for his exemplary character.”
George “High Pockets” Kelly was a two-time World Series Champion first baseman who led the majors in RBI in 1924 and the National League in home runs in 1921 with 23. He played most of his career with the New York Giants, but also played with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs and Brooklyn Dodgers. Kelly compiled a .297 lifetime batting average in his 16-year career.
“He’s the greatest person I ever met,” former big leaguer Joe Orengo said in 1984. “A man of honor, a true gentleman. A Hall of Famer in every sense.”
Billy Evans umpired at the Major League level for 22 years in the early twentieth century. He worked six World Series and at 22 years old, was the youngest umpire in Major League history when he began his career in 1906.
Kristen Gowdy was a public relations intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum