The Colonel and Lou to get their due

Two of the most important figures in the legendary history of the Yankees – Col. Jacob Ruppert and Lou Gehrig – will be the center of attention during the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.

Ruppert, the team’s owner from 1915 until his death in January 1939, will be inducted into the Hall in ceremonies Sunday with two other deceased electees by the Pre-Integration Era Veterans Committee, 19th century catcher Deacon White and early 20th century umpire Hank O’Day.

Gehrig, who was elected to the Hall of Fame by acclamation in 1939, will be among 12 former Hall of Famers who were never officially inducted in ceremonies at Cooperstown and will have their plaques read by current Hall of Famers as part of Sunday’s event at the Clark Sports Center.

On Saturday at Doubleday Field, the Hall will pay tribute to the late Blue Jays radio voice Tom Cheeks with the Ford C. Frick Award for major contributions to baseball broadcasting and longtime Philadelphia reporter and columnist Paul Hagen with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for meritorious contributions to baseball writing.

On the same program, the Hall will also honor Legendary Entertainment chief executive officer Thomas Tull, whose studio produced the Jackie Robinson biopic 42 as well as the honoring of Dr. Frank Jobe, who pioneered the surgical procedure now known as “Tommy John Surgery.” John, who pitched in 26 major-league seasons and was a two-time 20-game winner during his eight years with the Yankees, will also be featured.

Former Yankees Whitey Ford, Wade Boggs, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Phil Niekro and Gaylord Perry are among the 40 living Hall of Famers who will participate in both days’ ceremonies.

Ruppert, heir to one of New York’s most successful breweries and a four-term United States congressman, purchased the Yankees in January 1915 with partner Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston. Under Ruppert’s stewardship, the Yankees went from being an annual American League also-ran into an annual powerhouse. In his 24 seasons as owner, the Yankees won the first 10 of their 40 pennants and the first seven of their 27 World Series championships. It was Ruppert who put the pinstripes in the Yankees’ uniform, purchased the contract of Babe Ruth from the Red Sox and built the original Yankee Stadium.

Representing Ruppert, who never married, at the ceremony will be his great grandniece, Anne Vernon.

Click this link to view the Yankees on Demand special about Col. Jacob Ruppert.

Gehrig’s 15-season career with the Yankees occurred entirely during Ruppert’s ownership. Lou was forced into retirement because of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that since has borne his name, in 1939.

Although Gehrig is usually listed in the Hall of Fame class of 1939, he was never formally inducted. George Sisler, Eddie Collins and Willie Keeler were inducted that summer when the museum first opened. Gehrig was still an active player and did not retire until season’s end.

At the Winter Meetings in December in Cincinnati, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voted to suggest that Gehrig be inducted immediately and not wait until the next election, which was not until 1942. The Hall accepted the BBWAA’s suggestion, but since the induction ceremonies had already taken place Gehrig was never officially inducted through any ceremony. He died in 1941.

Induction Weekend ceremonies were not held annually during the early 1940s because of travel restrictions during World War II. The Hall will rectify that this year by reading the plaques of Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby (who was elected by the BBWAA in 1942) and 10 Veterans Committee electees in 1945 none of whom was ever officially inducted.

Cal Ripken Jr., who broke Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games in 1995 and pushed it to 2,632 before ending it in 1998 in a game at Camden Yards against the Yankees, will read the Gehrig plaque.

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Col. Jacob Ruppert (2nd from left, standing) with Joe McCarthy, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri and (seated) Joe DiMaggio (AP Photo)

Hall of Fame board vice chairman Joe Morgan will read the plaque of his fellow second baseman, Hornsby.

Handling the plaque-reading duties for the other Hall of Famers will be Carlton Fisk for Roger Bresnahan, Orlando Cepeda for Dan Brouthers, Bert Blyleven for Fred Clarke, Wade Boggs for Jimmy Collins, Billy Williams for Ed Delahanty, Jim Rice for Hugh Duffy, Ozzie Smith for Hughie Jennings, Andre Dawson for Mike “King” Kelly, Tony Gwynn for Jim O’Rourke and Tommy Lasorda for Wilbert Robinson.

Prior to Saturday’s Awards Presentation on the stage at Doubleday Field, the Hall will honor the 75th anniversary of Abbott & Costello’s Who’s On First? routine and the 125th anniversary of Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s poem Casey at the Bat at a special 3:30 p.m. pre-show program. A live performance of Who’s On First? by Gil “Bud” Palmer and Lou Sciara, noted for their portrayal of the classic comedy duo, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, will be followed by Hall of Fame director of research Tim Wiles’ recitation of Casey At The Bat. Gates open at 3 p.m. and admission is free.

After the Awards Presentation, the fourth annual Hall of Fame Parade of Legends will feature the Hall of Famers riding down Main Street in trucks provided by the Ford Motor Company en route to a private reception at the Museum.

MLB Network will televise the Awards Presentation at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, July 28 prior to the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which will be cablecast live on MLB Network beginning at 1:30 p.m. Greg Amsinger and 2004 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Peter Gammons will be the co-hosts.

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