This day in baseball: The first Hall of Fame class is selected

On January 29, 1936, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and a special Veterans Committee selected Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson in the first-ever Baseball Hall of Fame elections. The enshrinement of these five greats, however, would have to wait until 1939, since the museum’s construction in Cooperstown had not yet begun.

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1936 inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame inductees: L-R: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Water Johnson (Wikimedia Commons / public domain)

Quote of the day

The home run became glorified with Babe Ruth. Starting with him, batters have been thinking in terms of how far they could hit the ball, not how often.

~Rogers Hornsby

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Rogers Hornsby, 1921 (public domain)

ESPN Classic defends Harry Frazee

In December 1919, Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth for $125,000 to the Yankees, and also secured a $300,000 loan from the New York team. Throughout history, Frazee has been criticized for this deal, taking the blame for igniting the Curse of the Bambino, in which Boston did not win a World Series from 1918 to 2004. In the video below, originally aired in 2005, ESPN Classic takes a closer look at the circumstances surrounding the deal and comes to Frazee’s defense. True, Babe Ruth was one of the great pitchers of the era, but Ruth ultimately did not want to be a pitcher, but rather expressed more interest in hitting home runs. Additionally, Ruth’s antics off the field were well-known headache-inducers for any team. These are just a couple of the reasons that motivated Frazee to make the deal.

“1927 Yankees,” by Robert L. Harrison

The 1927 New York Yankees featured the renowned Murderer’s Row, which included Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri. The team won 110 games that year, and 1927 also happened to be the season when Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs.

This piece by Robert L. Harrison was first published in 1999.

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Gather ’round you fans of baseball
you lovers of season past,
let me take you back to the greatest team
that ever played on grass.

Guided by Miller Huggins
known as “murderer’s row,”
never was such a string of pearls
so feared this side of Hell.

Greedy was this awesome bunch
with Ruth and Gehrig leading the punch,
and Hoyt and Moore on the mound
shooting all the batters down.

Gasping crowds assemble
like sinners in a tent,
watching all the other teams
trying to repent.

God blessed those boys of summer
those pin-striped renegades,
with a winning passion
while others saw only the haze.

Gathering in the rosebuds
by playing excellent ball,
called the “five o’clock lightning”
taking the pennant in the fall.

Gone were any pretenders to the throne
no on stood wherever these Yankees roamed,
twenty-five men made up this team
and all had a year better than their dreams.

Quote of the day

Hell, better hitters than them couldn’t hit me. Why should they’ve been any different?

~Jackie Mitchell, on striking out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig

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Jackie Mitchell, 1931 (Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

“Along Came Ruth,” by Ford Frick

This poem by Ford Frick ends with the line, “Nothing’s simpler than that!”, which is quite fitting, as this piece is pretty straightforward. This was published in Ford Frick’s memoir, Games, Asterisks, and People: Memoirs of a lucky fan.

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You step up to the platter
And you gaze with flaming hate
At the poor benighted pitcher
As you dig in at the plate.
You watch him cut his fast ball loose,
Then swing your trusty bat
And you park one in the bleachers-
Nothing’s simpler than that!

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Ford Frick at the 1937 All-Star Game (Library of Congress)

This day in baseball: Babe Ruth released by Yankees

On February 27, 1935, after 15 seasons with the New York Yankees, Babe Ruth‘s career with the Bronx Bombers came to an end when he was released by the team. Ruth went on to sign with the Boston Braves as Vice President, assistant manager, and active player for $20,000 and a share in the team’s profits. That April, he drew the largest Opening Day crowd in the Braves’ history and would continue to be a major crowd attraction until he retired that June.

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