1936 - 1939
The inaugural Hall of Fame election results were announced in the media on Feb. 2, 1936, and featured Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner as the Class of 1936. After 20 more members were added to the Hall of Fame in the elections in 1937, 1938 and 1939, the first Induction Ceremony was held on June 12, 1939 – with all 11 living electees present in Cooperstown. Lou Gehrig is recognized as a member of the Class of 1939, but Gehrig was not elected until late in the year after it became clear that his playing career was over due to complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Class of 1936
In Baseball’s first Hall of Fame class, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Babe Ruth were inducted as five of the finest players of the era controlling the election ballots in 1936.
Class of 1937
The Hall of Fame inducted a class well-worthy of the second induction class in history. Nap Lajoie grabbed the most votes on the ballot with 83.6% of the votes followed by 82.1% by center fielder Tris Speaker. The top two managers in terms of wins all-time, Connie Mack and John McGraw join the list through the Veterans’ Committee with baseball’s all-time leader in pitching wins, Cy Young receiving 76.1% of the votes. Morgan Bulkeley and Byron Johnson become the first two executives inducted into the Hall of Fame also through the Veterans Committee with their creations of the National League and American League respectively. Rounding out the second Hall of Fame induction class was George Wright who starred at shortstop for the first all professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings.
Class of 1938
Two baseball pioneers and one of the greatest pitchers of all-time were voted into the Hall of Fame’s third class in 1938. Alexander Cartwright, developer of such early rules as foul territory and three-out innings joins Henry Chadwick, developer of the modern box score and statistics such as batting average and ERA as Veterans’ Committee elects to the Hall of Fame. The only player elected, Grover Alexander, third on the all-time wins list for a pitcher totaled 80.9% of the votes.
1939 Induction Ceremony
The Hall of Fame’s membership grew by ten in 1939, as BBWAA selections Eddie Collins, Willie Keeler, and George Sisler were inducted. They later added Lou Gehrig by Special Election in December. The Veterans Committee elected Cap Anson, Buck Ewing, Candy Cummings, Charles Radbourn along with manager/executives Charles Comiskey and Al Spalding. The 11 living Hall of Famers came to Cooperstown on June 12, 1939 to celebrate the official opening of the Museum.