After the recent Baseball hall of fame induction of Roberto Alomar, Bert Blylevin, and Patt Gillick, I got to thinking about local talent that has been enshrined in Cooperstown like these iconic men.
Right off the bat I got to say this, the baseball hall of fame has been around for much longer than the Naismith basketball Hall and the Pro-football halls of fame, respectively, ball players have had the opportunity for enshrinement since 1936, what this meant for me is that I had to go through a lot of documents. But, rather than whine about my woes I’ll simply display my results.
As I’ve discussed in an earlier article, Louisville was actually one of the original cities to have a Major League Baseball team, the Louisville Colonels. And the Colonels have had a strong showing in the hall through the years beginning with the 1945 induction of first baseman Dan Brouthers. Brouthers bounced around the league in the early days of major league baseball playing all over the country, including stints with the Buffalo Bisons, Boston Beaneaters, Baltimore Orioles, among others. However, he made his way to the Derby City in the 1895 season prior to making it into the hall.
Also from that class was Fred Clarke who began his professional career with the Colonels in 1894, he would later manage them for a time as well. As well as Jimmy Collins, who like Clarke began his career in Louisville, and finally, Pennsylvania’s Hughie Jennings who got his start with the Colonels in 1891, The following year, Colonel Rube Waddell was inducted. Waddell was a known multi-talented pitcher during his time in the majors.
The Colonels wouldn’t have another inductee until 2008 when Germany’s Barney Dreyfuss was inducted, not as a player but rather as an owner. During much of the 1890’s Dreyfuss was the major force behind the Colonels.
Politics aside two of the locals inducted went on to successful political careers. This included, Albert “Happy” Chandler, who would become a two time Kentucky governor. Chandler found success as the second commissioner of major league baseball as well though. And, as such was inducted into the hall in 1982. Fourteen years later, pitcher and later congressman Jim Bunning was inducted into the Hall for his time with the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies.
Of course, the biggest baseball name to come out of the area was inducted in 1984, Pee Wee Reese. Who, with Jackie Robinson would lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to two World Series championships.
Image: Baseball Hall of Fame
Added note as of August 2, 2011
It has been brought to my attention that I didn't mention the legendary Honus Wagner, who played three seasons with the Colonels in the late 1800's. I also forgot to mention the great Billy Herman, a New Albany native, Herman was notable for his time as a second baseman as well as a manager.