NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Former New York Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, longtime umpire Hank O'Day and barehanded catcher Deacon White were elected to the Hall of Fame on Monday for their excellence through the first half of the 20th century.
The trio was picked by the Hall's pre-integration panel - part of what once was known as the Veterans Committee - and gave the shrine exactly 300 members. The announcement was made at baseball's winter meetings. Induction ceremonies will be held July 28 in Cooperstown, New York. They will be honored along with anyone chosen in January in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Ruppert bought the Yankees in 1915 and soon transformed them into baseball's most dominant team. He acquired Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox, built Yankee Stadium and presided over the club's first six World Series championships.
"A lot of us thought he was already in for all he'd done," said panel member Phil Niekro, the Hall of Fame pitcher. "We were surprised he wasn't."
O'Day umpired in 10 World Series, including the first one, in 1903. He worked for 35 years and made one of the most famous calls in the game's history, ruling Fred Merkle out in a 1908 play that long lived in baseball lore. He was the 10th umpire to go into the Hall.
White played from 1871-1890, starting out as a catcher without a glove and later moving to third base. He was a three-time RBIs leader, once topping the league with 49 RBIs when baseball hardly resembled the game it is today.
Niekro credited two historians on the 16-person panel, Peter Morris and Tom Simon, with helping to illuminate the accomplishments of those who are long gone.
"It's tough to go back into the 1800s and bring that to life," Niekro said. "It was so different then - five strikes, eight balls, batters can tell the pitcher where they want it. Can you imagine? I couldn't have done that if I tried, not with my knuckleball."
Ruppert, O'Day and White all died in the 1930s. The first Hall class was selected in 1936.
Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven, Don Sutton, Pat Gillick and Niekro were among the voters who considered 10 candidates. Former NL MVPs Marty Marion and Bucky Walters also were on the ballot. It took 75 percent (12 votes ) for election. Ruppert and O'Day each got 15 votes and White drew 12. Bill Dahlen got 10 and Marion, Walters, Sam Breadon, Wes Ferrell, Tony Mullane and Alfred Reach each got three votes or less.
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