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June 12, 2014

HOFers, big crowds came to Monday dedication in '39

(Continued)

At the appointed hour, Landis presented scissors to National League President Ford Frick, his American League counterpart, William Harridge and minor league baseball President William Bramham and asked them to cut the red, white and blue ribbons stretched across the entrance. The door then was unlocked and the key was presented to Landis.

Amid a ruffle of drums, a roll of the 14 deceased and 11 living members of the Hall of Fame was called. Cobb, who reportedly suffered a bout of foot poisoning the night before, in nearby Utica, was late in arriving and missed the ceremony. The Hall of Fame speakers included Honus Wagner, Tris Speaker, Nap Lajoie, Cy Young, Walter Johnson, George Sisler, Eddie Collins, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Mack and Ruth.

Collins, surveying his fellow Hall of Famers, said he “would be happy to batboy for so great a team.” 

Pitching great Alexander joked that he would love to be backed by so potent a lineup. “I’d like to pitch for these boys,” he said. “I’d let the opposing team hit line drives all afternoon with this team behind me.”

Not surprisingly, the Bambino received the biggest ovation of the day. “Babe Ruth made the biggest hit,” wrote syndicated New York World-Telegram columnist Dan Daniel. “There were loud cheers for Honus Wagner, there was an ovation for Napoleon Lajoie, a wave of cheers for Walter Johnson. But the Babe brought the house down.”

Ruth told the spectators: “This is an anniversary for me as well as for baseball. Twenty five years ago yesterday, I pitched my first game for the Red Sox.” He was mobbed by autograph seekers once the ceremony concluded and continued to be besieged a few hours later during the exhibition game at Doubleday Field. But Ruth wasn’t complaining. Although he had retired four years earlier, he clearly remained baseball’s towering figure.

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