Schechter: What if they held an Induction Day and no one came?

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at on July 30, 2013:

Back in January, when Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson announced that the BBWAA had resisted the temptation to elect the all-time home run champ, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, two guys with more than 3,000 hits, and other significant ballplayers to the Hall of Fame, I sent him an e-mail. It read: “For the first time since you’ve been at the Hall, you’ll be able to give an accurate count of the attendance at the induction ceremony. All you have to do is count the legs and divide by two.” To Jeff’s credit, within an hour of facing the national cameras with his no-news-is-bad-news, he responded with this witty note: “Not if Bill Veeck shows up,” since Veeck’s wooden leg would screw up the arithmetic. I replied, “If you can get Bill Veeck here, you’ll have a record crowd.”

Alas, Veeck did not rise from the dead, though the three inductees did: umpire Hank O’Day (who died in 1935), Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert (who died in 1939, several months before the Hall of Fame’s first induction ceremony), and 19th-century catching pioneer James “Deacon” White (who also died in 1939, 25 days after that initial ceremony). They were represented by descendants who weren’t even alive in the 1930s, but all gave heartfelt, welcome speeches, most notably Jerry Watkins, White’s great-grandson, who was one of roughly 50 family members to attend the ceremony.

That heavy turnout by the White clan may be what pushed the crowd over the magical 1,000 mark.

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Originally published: July 30, 2013. Last Updated: July 30, 2013.