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.
Infamously missing in the photograph of the inductees was Ty Cobb, who had received more votes than anybody in the 1936 selection.
Although Cobb has been slammed recently in both “Field of Dreams” and “Cobb”, his tardiness was not intentional. He was simply cheap, and rather than having to rent a hotel for the night before the ceremony, he traveled with his youngest son from the west coast by train. He arrived late in an overnight train to Albany, and then rented a car for the last 40 miles.
Cobb did arrive soon after the famous photo was taken, and made a statement for the news reels on hand, signed autographs, and took a tour of the new Museum. He then walked over to the local post office, and bought some of the First Day of Issue stamps the US Postal System made for the event.
Afterward, Cobb would attended every induction regularly, and actively campaigned for some players overlooked by the committee.
So, June 12, 2019, will be the 80th anniversary of that great day in baseball history. A day that America was proud of their hero’s, happy to be emerging from the years past, and blissfully unaware of the days to come. Perhaps we all need to take that day off and celebrate by going to a baseball game!