Baseball pioneers James “Deacon” White, Jacob Ruppert, Jr. and Hank O’Day were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
White was a barehanded catcher who was one of the game’s earliest stars. The Associated Press notes he was the first batter in the first professional game on May 4, 1871. In that at-bat, he hit a double. He was hailed as one of the best catchers in baseball before making the switch to third base in a career that spanned nearly 20 years.
He was hailed as “most admirable baseball superstar of the 1870s” by Bill James in the “Historical Baseball Extract.” When he retired in 1890, he concluded his career with a .312 average, 2,067 hits, 270 doubles, 98 triples, 24 home runs and 988 RBIs.
Ruppert started out in the family brewing business before his passion for baseball urged him to purchase the New York Yankees in 1915 for $418,000. From there, he laid out the foundation for a powerhouse. Ruppert hired Miller Huggins as manager, Ed Barrow as general manager and acquired legendary Babe Ruth in 1919.
Upon his death in 1939, his Yankee teams had won 10 AL pennants and seven World Series in 18 seasons.
O’Day was a pitcher who turned pro in 1884 who had issues with his pitching arm during his career. He eventually retired in 1889 after leading the New York Giants to the National League pennant.
He umpired on occasion during his career as a pitcher. This paved the way for him to become a major league umpire in 1895, a new calling that saw him taking part in more than 4,000 games. According to the Associated Press, his greatest contribution was persuading those associated with baseball to treat umpires with dignity.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports writes the 2013 induction marks the first time since 1965 that no living person will be honored. With this, he notes attendance to the event was expected to be less than 10,000 a figure which represents a 50 percent decrease from recent years.
Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson says it’s kind of sad.
“It’s kind of sad. It’s quiet here.”