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December 4, 2012

Ex-Yanks owner among 3 added to Hall

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The Daily Star

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A New York Yankees owner whose tenure was defined by winning, amassing a roster of stars and overseeing the construction of a stadium second to none in sports earned election into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday.

George Steinbrenner, right?

Wrong.

A 16-member Pre-Integration Era Committee voted three men into Hall, most notably Jacob Ruppert, the Yankees’ owner from 1915 until his death in 1939. Umpire Hank O’Day and 19th century catcher/third baseman Deacon White also earned election.

They’ll be enshrined July 28, 2013 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, along with any others selected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The BBWAA will announce the results of its vote Jan. 9. All-time home run leader Barry Bonds, seven-time Cy Young award winner Roger Clemens, former Chicago Cubs star Sammy Sosa and ex-New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza are among those on the ballot for the first time.

Twelve votes were necessary for election. Ruppert and O’Day garnered 15 votes, and White received 14. Bill Dahlen had the next most with 10. Sam Breadon, Wes Ferrell, Marty Marion, Tony Mullane, Alfred Reach and Bucky Walters all received three votes or fewer.

Those on the ballot made their most significant contributions before 1946.

Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven, Pat Gillick, Phil Niekro and Don Sutton; major league executives Bill DeWitt, Roland Hemond, Gary Hughes and Bob Watson; and media members and historians Jim Henneman, Steve Hirdt, Peter Morris, Phil Pepe, Tom Simon, Claire Smith, T.R. Sullivan and Mark Whicker made up the voting committee.

The three electees died in the 1930s.

The baseball careers of Ruppert and Steinbrenner followed similar paths.

Both bought the Yankees when the franchise was struggling, both brought baseball’s biggest names to New York, both helped erect state-of-the-art stadiums in the Bronx and both won seven World Series titles.

Ruppert, also a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York for four terms, spent $480,000 to buy the team in 1915. He acquired Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox in 1919 and construction finished for Yankee Stadium in 1923. It was the first ballpark with three tiers of seating.

“A lot of us thought he was already in for all he’d done,” Niekro said told the Associated Press of Ruppert. “We were surprised he wasn’t.”

Steinbrenner’s group bought the Yankees for $8.8 million in 1973. He brought stars such as Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson, and more recently, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia to New York. The new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009, the same season New York won its 27th World Series and seventh under Steinbrenner.

Steinbrenner, who died of a heart attack at the age of 80 in 2010, was on the Expansion Era ballot in 2010, but fell fall short of the votes necessary for election. Gillick was the lone Expansion Era electee that year.

O’Day, who died in 1935, umpired in the first World Series in 1903. He worked in 10 World Series. O’Day umpired in the National League for 30 years and made the defining call in the 1908 Giants vs. Cubs game that featured the Cubs’ Johnny Evers forcing out Fred Merkle at second base after what appeared to be the winning hit. The Cubs went on to win the World Series over the Detroit Tigers. O’Day became the 10th umpire elected into the Hall of Fame.

White played 20 seasons for teams in the National Association, the National League and the Players League, compiling 2,067 hits in 1,560 games. White led his league in batting average twice and RBIs three times. He was a bare-handed catcher before switching to third base later in his career. White died in 1939.

The Pre-Integration voting was completed Sunday at Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., and released Monday.

The J.G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball writers will be announced today and the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters will be named Wednesday.

The additions of Ruppert, O’Day and White brought the number of Hall of Famers to 300.