In 1963 we were still living in Ferndale, CA, camping and picnicking among the giant sequoias along the Eel River. Four men were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
John Clarkson had a career record as a pitcher of 327-177, and one season won 53 games and pitched over 600 innings in two different seasons. Between 1882 and 1894 he played for the Worcester Ruby Legs, the Chicago White Stockings, the Boston Beaneaters and the Cleveland Spiders. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1963, 54 years after his death. He suffered a nervous breakdown in 1905 or 1906 and spent the rest of his life in and out of mental hospitals. He came down with pneumonia in 1909 and passed away at the age of 47. Elmer Flick played for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Philadelphia A's and the Cleveland Naps between 1898 and 1910. In 1907 his value to the Naps was so high that they turned down a trade that would have brought the 21 year old Ty Cobb to Cleveland. His career batting average was .313. He was voted into the Hall by the Veterans Committee. He passed away in 1971 in his lifelong hometown of Bedford, OH at the age of 94.
Edgar Rice changed his name to Sam Rice when he became a player, and moved from being a pitcher to an outfielder for most of his career. He overcame a great deal of grief just to become a player, in 1912 he traveled to a baseball tryout. While he was away from home, a tornado hit his home and killed his wife, his wife, two children, his younger sisters, his parents and a farmhand. Shortly afterwards he joined the Navy. In 1914 he tried out for a baseball team in Petersburg, VA and was signed up as a pitcher. The team owner, Doc Lee, owed Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith $300 and offered him Rices' contract to pay off the debt. Griffith took the contract and Rice played 19 years for the Senators and played one season for the Indians before retiring at the age of 44 in 1934. His most famous or infamous moment came during the 1925 World Series, when he made a catch in the outfield and fell over the fence, when he came back up he had the ball in his glove. There arose a controversy about whether Rice had possession of the ball the entire time. He wouldn't answer any questions about the catch, but he was asked about the catch so much that he left an envelope with a note in it to be opened upon his death. The envelope contained his account of the catch and ended with the line, "at no time did I lose possession of the ball." He remarried years later and he and his family were being interviewed for a program to honor him and he told the story about the tornado and his family learned of his previous family. He was voted into the Hall in 1963 by the Veterans Committee after being on the ballot thirteen times, his highest percentage was 53% in 1960. He passed away in 1974 at the age of 84.
Eppa Rixley was the first player to die between their election and induction, he died just a month after his election. He played from 1912-1933 for the Phillies and the Reds, ending with a career record of 266-251. He leads the Reds in innings pitched with 2,890 2/3 innings, and was well known for destroying the locker room or disappearing for days when he would lose. He missed the 1918 season to serve in the Armys' Chemical Warfare Division. After he retired he sold insurance in his Father in Laws insurance agency, during his career he would teach Latin at a high school in Alexandria, Virginia. He was elected by the Veterans Committee after being on the ballot 16 times between 1936 and 1962, in 1960 he attained his highest percentage with 50%. In 1921 he surrendered just one home run in 301 innings pitched.
In 1962 we had moved from Honolulu, HI to Ferndale, CA. Dad was now stationed at NavFac Centerville Beach, I remember going past a horse, peacocks and a statue of the Virgin Mary in a hillside on the way to the base from home. Ferndale is where I went to the first of the 10 schools I would attend in the next 12 years in 4 states on 2 coasts.
When I started this project years ago this was the first year that I had heard of any of the inductees, and I had met one of them, several times.
Bob Feller was inducted into the HOF in his first year of eligibility in 1962, he played for the Indians from 1936-1956 with 4 years of service in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Alabama. He is the only Chief Petty Officer enshrined in the HOF, his bunk is highlighted on the Alabama at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, AL. He played for the Indians from 1936-1956 and then retired to Van Meter, IA. He then crisscrossed the country signing autographs all over the country. I believe I got his signature at least three different minor league ballparks, one dinner and a couple of shows.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962, in his first year of eligibility with 93.8% of the vote.
He was diagnosed with leukemia in August of 2010 and he passed away in December of that year.
Bill McKechnie played from 1907-1920, and his managerial career overlapped from 1915-1946. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1962 by the Veterans Committee as a manager. He managed the Pirates to a World Series victory in 1925 and the Reds in 1940. McKechnie Field at the Pirates spring training facility in Bradenton, FL is named for him. He died in 1965 at the age of 79.
Jackie Robinson was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962, he was elected with 77.5% of the vote. There isn't much to say about Jackie Robinson that hasn't already been said. He passed away in 1972 at the age of 53. His number, 42, has been retired by all the major league baseball franchises and on Jackie Robinson day each April all major league players, coaches and managers wear 42 in honor of Jackie.
Edd Roush played for the Indiana Hoosiers, the Reds, the Newark Peppers, the White Sox, and the Giants from 1913-1931. He had been on the writers ballot almost every year from 1936-1960, he was elected by the Veterans Committee. He played for the Reds in the 1919 World Series and insisted that even if the Black Sox had played on the level the Reds still would have won. He died in 1988 at the age of 94.
In 1960 no one was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, my family was still living in Hawaii and we had welcomed my second sister to the family. Since the last time anyone was inducted into the HOF Hawaii had become a state. I have one sister who was born in the territory of Hawaii and one who was born in the state of Hawaii. My Dad was stationed on board the U.S.S. Kawishiwi in Honolulu for another year.
In 1961 Max Carey was inducted into the HOF after being on the ballot since 1937, he started by getting 3% of the vote in 1937 and 51% in 1958. He led the league in steals 10 times and is 9th all time in Major League steals at 738. He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Brooklyn Robins from 1910-1929. He managed the Dodgers in 1932 and 1933, he also managed the Milwaukee Chicks and Fort Wayne Daisies of the All American Girls Baseball League. He lived until 1978 and passed away at the age of 86.
Billy Hamilton was inducted posthumously and was represented at the ceremony by his three daughters. He was known as "Sliding Billy" because of all the base stealing he did, he is third all time in steals behind Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock. He is fourth all time in on base percentage behind Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and John McGraw. From 1888-1901 he played for the Kansas City Cowboys, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Beaneaters. He holds the record for most runs scored in a season with 198 in 1894 for the Phillies, the played to come closest to him was Babe Ruth in 1921 with 177. Billy only appeared on the HOF ballot in 1936, 1942 and 1961 when he was elected by the Veterans' Committee. He lived until December 16, 1940 and passed away at age 74.
In 1958 my Dad got transferred to Honolulu, Hawaii and my pregnant Mom and I took a ship from Long Beach, CA to Honolulu. My first sister was born in October of 1958 and in 1958 no one was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 1959 we stayed in Hawaii and only one player was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Zach Wheat was inducted by the Veterans Committee in 1959. He was on and off of the HOF ballot between the inagural year of 1936-1945-1956, with his highest percentage of the vote coming in 1947 when he garnered 23% of the vote. He played for the Brooklyn Robins/Superbas and Dodgers for 18 years between 1909-1926, and played one final season for the Philadelphia Athletics. He still holds Dodger franchise records for hits, doubles, triples and total bases. He was originally voted into the HOF in 1957 but had not been retired the required 30 years, so he voted in by the veterans committee in 1959.