On Wednesday, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will announce the inductees for the 2016 class of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The new additions will join a list that has been growing since Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson made up the first class, in 1936.
But it was not until 1939 that the Hall of Fame would acquire its physical location, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Abner Doubleday’s supposed—but already-dubious—invention of the sport in Cooperstown, N.Y., as TIME explained in the lead-up to that centennial year:
The “oldsters” aren’t around anymore, but the 75% rule is still in effect for inclusion in the Hall of Fame.
So, as TIME’s Richard Corliss put it many decades later, “the Hall of Fame, like the Miss America Pageant or the Mount Rushmore sculptures, was essentially a Chamber of Commerce inspiration to lure tourists.”
“But,” he continued, “when the Hall opened in 1939, it became a secular shrine, the Lourdes of baseball. It still is.”
Read the full story from 1938, here in the TIME Vault: Immortals
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