The Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed its first members in 1936 after the
votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America (BWAA) were
announced in January. The standard then was the same as it is today; to be
elected, you must receive votes from 75% of the writers who take the time
Cochrane, in retrospect, became the poster boy for why a five year
waiting period was needed. Cochrane had played in five World Series' and
had won two MVPs (the most recent only two years earlier), but he
certainly was not one of the 10 greatest players of all time. His career
was winding down in 1936, but with his his recent performance so fresh in
the voters' minds, he finished tenth. The rules were amended in subsequent
years to rule out current major leaguers; he did not receive votes again
until 1939 and did not receive enough to enter the
Hall until 1947.
Joe Jackson was eligible and received just two votes. The person who
received the most votes but who is still not in the Hall is Hal
Chase, who received 11 votes and 18 in 1937 but
was never again considered.
There was also a a special election by 78 appointed players, writers,
managers and officials who had first-hand familiarity with 19th century
baseball. This was the first so-called Veteran's Committee. It was a
Many of the veterans at first thought they were being asked to choose
an all-star team of 10 19th Century players and sent their ballots in
accordingly. The Hall asked that only 5 were chosen to limit the numbers
of those who might get elected. Those whose ballots included 10 had each
of their votes split in half, meaning that a vote for Cy Young was only
1/2 a vote for Cy Young. This made it nearly impossible for anyone to
achieve the necessary 75% (59 votes) level of support. Indeed, no one was
elected. Here are the results of that ballot:
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Ty Cobb was second to no one and received the most votes in the first ever Hall of Fame voting.
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