For decades, Cooperstown, N.Y., has become the baseball capital of the world when the tiny village overflows one weekend a summer with fans from around the world for the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. Colors of fans wearing baseball gear vary from year to year depending upon which baseball legend is joining the elite group of players enshrined in the red brick Hall of Fame building on Main Street.
It wasn’t the same this summer because the July 26 induction for Derek Jeter, Larry Walker and Ted Simmons was postponed until next year due to the COVID-19 virus. A record number of Yankee fans and Canadian baseball fans were expected. Walker is the second Canadian elected to the Hall, joining Ferguson Jenkins, who was originally signed by the Phillies.
Also postponed was the presentation of the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award to the late David P. Montgomery. His widow, Lyn, and family will be part of the July 25, 2021 weekend. The award, first presented in 2008, honors an individual whose extraordinary efforts enhanced baseball’s positive impact on society, broadened the game’s appeal and whose character, integrity and dignity are comparable to the qualities exhibited by O’Neil, whose baseball career spanned eight decades.
Over 19,700 players have appeared in a Major League game. Of that number, only 264 are enshrined. Thirty-five have worn a Phillies uniform, some as briefly as one season. It is generally acknowledged the following earned their HOF spurs as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.
June 12, 1939
Grover Cleveland Alexander (class of 1938) was among 11 living members from the first four induction classes (1936-39), the initial induction day. The crowd was estimated at 15,000. Alexander won 190 games with the Phillies and led the Phillies to their first pennant(1915).
The ceremony took place in front of the newly opened Hall of Fame on Main Street in conjunction with Baseball’s Centennial Celebration.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America didn’t hold elections in 1941, ‘43 and ‘44. World War II wartime travel restrictions prohibited ceremonies, so joint induction events were held in 1947 and ‘49.
The 1966 induction ceremony was moved from in front of the HOF building to Cooper Park to accommodate a larger crowd for Ted Williams’ induction. Cooper Park is adjacent to the HOF Library, which is connected to the rear of the HOF building.
Aug. 9, 1976
Robin Roberts’ induction took place in the Otesaga Hotel’s small ballroom because of rain. Only other time rain altered plans was 1990 (Joe Morgan and Jim Palmer). Ceremonies took place in Cooperstown High School. Roberts won 241 games for the Phillies, including six straight 20-win seasons.
Aug. 3, 1980
Chuck Klein was inducted posthumously. A nephew, Bob Torpey, accepted the plaque. Klein was one of baseball’s premier sluggers in the late 1920s-early 1930s and the all-time leader in many of the Phillies’ hitting categories.
When the library underwent an extensive expansion and renovation in the fall of 1991, the ‘92 ceremonies were moved to the grounds of the Clark Sports Center on the south end of the village. Acres of grass become home to thousands of fans while past and current inductees filled a large covered stage.
July 31, 1994
Steve Carlton began a three-year Phillies parade. The greatest pitcher in Phillies history had 241 wins and 3,031 strikeouts, and he was the first to win four Cy Young Awards.
July 30, 1995
Richie Ashburn and Mike Schmidt were inducted, with Phillies fans turning Cooperstown into a sea of red. The estimated crowd of 28,000 is the largest ever. “Whitey,” who won two batting titles, was a lifetime .308 hitter and a superior center-field defender. Schmidt is the club’s all-time home run leader (548) and a three-time NL MVP -- and he is one of 52 Hall of Famers to spend an entire career with one club.
Aug. 4, 1996
U.S. Senator Jim Bunning, a pitcher with the Detroit Tigers for nine years, chose to wear a Phillies cap on his plaque. In his first four seasons with Philadelphia, he won 19, 19, 19 and 17 games -- including the Phillies’ first perfect game.
July 24, 2011
General manager Pat Gillick joined the elite group of executives to be enshrined. As GM, he led four franchises to the postseason, including World Series titles with the Blue Jays (1992-93) and the Phillies (2008). In 27 seasons as GM, his teams had a winning record 20 times.
July 21, 2019
Roy Halladay was inducted posthumously. His widow, Brandy, accepted the honor in his place. Doc pitched 12 years with Toronto and four with Phillies, and the decision was made to have a neutral cap on the plaque. Both clubs retired his uniform number -- 32 with the Blue Jays and 34 with the Phillies. Halladay tossed two no-hitters in his first Phillies season (2010), including a perfect game in the postseason.