The streets of Cooperstown were packed. People were shopping for souvenirs, looking for famous faces and waiting for major league baseball on Monday, July 22, 1957.
The Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals were in town for the 16th annual baseball game sponsored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Hall was admitting two new members during the day — celebrated New York Yankees manager Joe McCarthy, then 70, and Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers outfielder Sam “Wahoo Sam” Crawford, then 77.
“Gee, I wish I could do it all over again,” said McCarthy, whose nickname was “Marse Joe.”
Crawford, who still holds the major league record for career triples at 309 and for inside-the-park home runs in a season (12) and a career (51), spoke only briefly during his inauguration to the baseball’s famous shrine.
“I had a speech ready, but I don’t believe I can go through with it,” he said, tears in his eyes.
Joe and Sam weren’t the only celebrity baseball men in town. Casey Stengel, Ty Cobb, Frank “Home Run” Baker and Carl Hubbell — who distinguished themselves with the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Athletics and New York Giants, respectively — also were in their civvies.
“Stories about baseball were heard everywhere, and to be recognized as one of its great players meant to be surrounded by autograph seekers,” wrote Bob Spoor, covering the commotion for the Schenectady Gazette.
“Recognition of the celebrities was made easy because with each arrival, a battery of cameras was pointed in that direction.”
Eventually, 9,000 people in town began cheering at Doubleday Field. The Chicago White Sox took the field, with stars Nellie Fox, Larry Doby and Luis Aparicio in the lineup.
Seventeen-year-old Jim Derrington was on the mound for the Sox, pitching against feared batsman Stan “The Man” Musial and the rest of the Cardinals.
The Sox broke open the game in the third inning. Jim Rivera’s two-run homer was the big blast as the American Leaguers scored eight runs. Walt Dropo hit a three-run shot in the eighth, and the Sox posted a 13-4 victory.
Once the game was over, people began leaving Cooperstown.
“Baseball fans will still file through the Hall of Fame and recount the tales which are locked up within its walls, but the feverish atmosphere which goes with Hall of Fame Day has vanished,” Spoor wrote.
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