“The ballot did not say the voter had to vote for the players I listed,” Edwards said. “I simply set down a bunch of the best names without any intention to lock out anybody. I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb.”
It was also discovered around this time that some members of the BBWAA thought that they were being asked to list an all-star team instead of the 10 greatest players without regard to position. Those ballots sent in with what looked to be an all-star team were returned by Edwards along with a new ballot and a letter making it clear that the voter can nominate 10 players from any combination of positions.
The vote for players who came before the turn of century was announced on Jan. 31, 1936, with none of the nominees receiving the required 75 percent of the total vote. The top vote getters were Ewing, Anson, Keeler and Young.
News of the Hall of Fame’s first electees was released on Feb. 2, 1936, with only Cobb, Ruth, Wagner, Mathewson and Johnson receiving the required 75 percent of the BBWAA’s vote from the 20th century ballot.
Of the 226 votes cast, Cobb received 222, Ruth and Wagner received 215 each, Mathewson 205 and Johnson 189. Seventy-five percent of the total votes, or 169, were needed for election. In total, 51 players were named.
“I deeply appreciate the honor,” said Cobb, interrupting a round of golf in San Francisco to hear the news. “I am overwhelmed. I am glad they (the writers who elected him) feel that way about me. I want to thank them all.”
According to news reports, when the first ballot in which Ruth’s name did not appear surfaced, vote counting stopped momentarily for a discussion on how any one could leave the Bambino off the list.