From SABR member Joe Posnanski at The Athletic on December 26, 2018:
Let’s go back to the beginning, to the last week of January, 1936, when the committee in charge of the very first Baseball Hall of Fame vote was doing the official count. It was exciting. There were 226 baseball writer votes to count, and the committee members knew that any player on the 51-person ballot who got 75 percent of the vote was going to the be inducted into this Hall of Fame that was being built for baseball’s centennial celebration.
Who would get in? Christy Mathewson? Tris Speaker? Cy Young?
There were two players everyone knew would get in. And so, inside the room, there was a side bet on those two: Who would get more votes — Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth?
As the first 100 votes were counted, that bet seemed pointless: Cobb and Ruth were named on all 100 ballots. They were unanimous. Well, of course they were. Ruth had only just retired but he was one of those rare players who was a legend in his own time. Come on: 714 home runs? Who could vote against that? And Cobb? He hit .366 for his career! He hit .400 three different times! The baseball literati of the age believed that Cobb, not Ruth, was the greatest player of them all.
Read the full article here (subscription required): https://theathletic.com/733813/2018/12/26/posnanski-how-the-lack-of-hall-of-fame-unanimity-became-a-thing-and-why-it-should-end-with-mariano-rivera/
Originally published: December 26, 2018. Last Updated: December 26, 2018.