College Baseball Hall of Fame Announces Veteran Inductees

The inductees include Matthewson, Gehrig, and Sewell


Jan. 10, 2007

LUBBOCK, Texas (www.collegebaseballfoundation.org)--The College Baseball Foundation announced today the names of four collegiate baseball legends that will comprise the first-ever Veteran Class inducted into the new National College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Texas.  The announcement comes after the conclusion of an intensive voting process that began with nominations in last February and two elimination ballots over the past year.

 

This first-ever Veteran Class of pre-1947 candidates includes legendary players Christy Mathewson of Bucknell, Lou Gehrig of Columbia and players-turned-coaches Joe Sewell of Alabama and John "Jack" Barry of Holy Cross.  The Veteran and Historical Committees will research and nominate individuals each year from this pre-1947 era, before the entire voting committee votes them on.  These collegiate legends will be officially enshrined during a two-day July celebration of college baseball in Lubbock, Texas, as the `The Past Meets Present'. 

 

The announcement also serves to kick off the official nomination process for 2007, which will culminate with a new Hall of Fame class inducted this summer.  Hall of Fame voters will pare down the initial list of nominees, provided by CBF members and baseball playing institutions, into the official 2007 Hall of Fame ballot to be released later this spring.

 

"The task of researching and evaluating the veteran nominees is difficult, because they competed prior to the collection of data that is so commonplace today.  These men had no sports information personnel that kept track of their every statistic," said CBF Chairman/CEO John Askins.  "While records are sketchy at best, this outstanding group had a profound impact on collegiate baseball, both nationally and in their own region, and their accomplishments have withstood the test of time."

 

"The pre-1947 designation is not an arbitrary demarcation," said Askins.  "The first All American team for college baseball was chosen that year by the coaches, so that makes it a logical point to separate modern-day players and veteran candidates."

 

Each year those candidates named to the official Hall of Fame ballot, but not selected for induction, will become holdovers and automatically appear on the ballot the following year.

 

The CBF again will kick off Hall of Fame festivities on Tuesday, July 3rd with the fourth annual Brooks Wallace College Baseball Player of the Year Award dinner.  The 2007 Hall of Fame Class will be in attendance and recognized during the ceremony.  Both events will be will be carried nationally by Fox Sports Network, as well as the Fox College Sports Networks (Atlantic, Central and Pacific).

 

On Wednesday, July 4th, the Inductees will participate in the annual 4th on Broadway Parade, and will be accessible to attendees during a `Fan Fest' following the event.  The coaches and players will then make their official acceptance speeches as part of the annual 4th on Broadway Festival in Lubbock, considered the "Largest Free Festival in the State of Texas."  The official party will attend the city's evening musical concert and 4th of July fireworks spectacular to cap off the ceremonies.

 

The upcoming schedule and location of events, information regarding the sale of tickets, and exact times and dates for clearances around the country on Fox Sports Network and Fox College Sports, will be updated on the CBF website (www.collegebaseballfoundation.org) as they are made available.

 

Bios of 2007 National College Baseball Hall of Fame Veteran Inductees
 
John "Jack" Barry, Holy Cross

1905-08, 1921-60

 

The "Knute Rockne" of college baseball, as Barry has been called many times, was born in Meriden, CT. He starred in sports at Meriden and then became a baseball brilliant with the Crusader Prep and college teams of 1905-08. 

 

As a player, Barry was named captain of the 1908 Crusader team and helped lead his team to their first 20 win season. His speed, glove, arm and bat qualify him as the greatest shortstop in Holy Cross history.

 

As a coach, Barry returned to coach the Crusaders in 1920 after playing eight years of professional baseball. Barry led the Crusaders to glory as a player in the early 1900s, and sought to do the same as a coach.  He returned to Holy Cross in 1921 and started a career that earned him the reputation as the number one man among college baseball coaches.

 

In his first season he guided the team to a school record 30-win season. Barry would continue to coach the Crusaders for an unprecedented 39 seasons (1921-1960) finishing with a 616-150-6 (.802) record. He stands as the all-time winningest coach (by both number of wins and winning percentage) in Holy Cross Athletics history. Holy Cross had 68 consecutive non-losing seasons from 1893-1960. Barry coached the Crusaders from 1921-60 (40 years), and had two .500 seasons. He never lost more than 8 games in a season (and then only once), and his best seasons were 1924 (19-0), 1935 (22-1) and 1940 (15-1). He coached 25 players who played in the major leagues.

 

His 1924 team was undefeated, 19-0.  Two other teams finished with only one loss and eight others had just two losses.  His teams recorded eight Eastern Intercollegiate Championships and made six NCAA College World Series appearances.  The 1952 team was NCAA Champion. The Crusaders made the NCAA Tournament the next three seasons ('53-56), but lost their first game each year.  HC returned to the College World Series in 1958, winning its first two games before dropping two-straight to Missouri and USC, but finished ranked third in the nation.  It was HC's highest ranking since the 1952 National Championship team.  The 1960 club went 12-5 and returned to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in nine years in Jack Barry's final season at the helm of the Crusaders. Barry was inducted into the Holy Cross Hall of Fame in 1956.

 

As a professional, Barry started his career with the Philadelphia A's when he was drafted by the legendary Connie Mack who stated that Barry was "the greatest shortstop there ever was."  Mack traveled to Worcester personally to sign him up for the A's in 1908.  As the starting shortstop, Barry figured prominently with his defensive play as a member of the old "$100,000 infield" of the Philadelphia Athletics.  This "Baseball Hall of Fame" infield had Stuffy McInnis at first, Eddie Collins at second, Jack Barry at short and Home-Run Baker at third.  They led the A's to the World Series in 1910, 1911, 1913 and 1914.  Jack was then traded to the Red Sox and led them to the World Series in 1915 and 1916.  He became player-manager in 1917 and managed the team to a second place American League finish that year.  He was in the Navy in 1918, the year the Red Sox won the World Series.  He returned in 1919 to the Red Sox but retired after being sold back to the A's and suffered a career-ending knee injury.  Although his lifetime batting average was only .243, it was his defensive skills and timely clutch hitting the determined his greatness.

 

Joe Sewell, Alabama

1918-20, 1964-69

 

There is no doubt that Joe Sewell was one of the finest baseball players to ever play for the Alabama Crimson Tide ... He was surrounded by an all-star cast of players that produced some of the greatest seasons in Crimson Tide lore ... As UA's starting second baseman from 1918-20, Sewell teamed with another future Major Leaguer, Riggs Stephenson (SS), to form a solid double-play combination ... Also, Sewell and Stephenson were regarded as two of the hardest hitters in baseball ... Sewell played on teams that posted a 42-4 (.913) record against college teams ... Overall, the Crimson Tide went 44-8 (.846) en route to three Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles in 1918, 1919 and 1920 ... The 1918 team featured five future MLB players -- Sewell, Stephenson, Dan Boone, Francis Pratt and Lena Stiles ... They posted a 13-4 record, including a 13-2 mark against college teams ... The 1919 team was just as successful, as Alabama went 16-2, including a 15-1 slate against college teams ... The Tide won its third straight SIAA title with a 15-2 record in 1920, including a 14-1 mark against college teams ... Sewell was the cornerstone on those successful Bama teams ... In 1920, he set every hitting and fielding record at Alabama was a named to the All-SIAA team and very mythical All-America team college baseball had to offer ... He batted over .300 but even more impressive was his defensive prowess at second base ... He was also captain of the 1920 team ... After leading UA to the 1920 SIAA title, Sewell signed with Cleveland and played in New Orleans in the Southern League, leading them to the AA Championship ... Sewell was then called up to the big leagues, where he replaced Ray Chapman, who was struck in the face and accidentally killed by a line drive, and became the Indians starting SS and helped them to the 1920 World Series championship over the Brooklyn Nationals ... Not a bad year for the Titus, Alabama native ... He played 14 years in the big leagues for Cleveland and the New York Yankees, where he was Lou Gehrig's roommate ... Mr. Joe batted .312 during his career as he amassed over 2,200 career hits ... Sewell also set MLB records for fewest strikeouts in a season (4) and career (114) -- records that will never be broken ... He played on two World Series championship teams with Cleveland (1920) and NY Yankees (1932) ... He was inducted in the MLB Hall of Fame in 1977 ... Sewell returned to Alabama in 1964, at the age of 65, to coach the Crimson Tide baseball team ... He compiled a 106-79 (.603) overall record in five seasons ... He was forced to retire after the 1969 season at the state mandatory retirement age of 70 ... He led the 1968 team to a 24-14 record and the SEC Championship.

 

Christy Mathewson, Bucknell

1898-1900

 

Bucknell's most famous athlete ... often considered baseball's greatest pitcher ... one of five original members of the Baseball Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Bucknell Hall of Fame in 1979 ... three-sport athlete at Bucknell, playing football, basketball and baseball ...his football success helped him earn a contract to play baseball for Norfolk of the Virginia League his junior year ... gained his initial athletic fame as a fullback, punter and dropkicker at Bucknell from 1898-1900 ... in football, he was named the "12th man" on Walter Camp's 1900 All-America team ... was better known while at Bucknell as a hard hitting fullback and outstanding kicker. "Matty" was one of the truly outstanding players of his era, Mathewson kicked a point after touchdown in the first varsity game of his freshman year, and in the next three years added 13 touchdowns and eight field goals. Mathewson gained national attention when he dropkicked two field goals against Pennsylvania in 1899 and added a 45-yard field goal against Army the following year ... his punting was exceptional throughout his career, a three-year stretch during which he scored 106 points ... was president of his class ... was also well-known as a gentleman and a true scholar-athlete and member of the glee club. Bucknell's Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium (football) is named in his honor, and he is buried in the cemetery just behind the Kenneth Langone Athletics & Recreation Center. 

 

During his 17-year professional career, Mathewson won 373 games and lost 188. His career ERA of 2.13 and 79 career shutouts are amongst the best all-time for pitchers. He recorded 2,502 career strike outs against 844 walks. All this after his original major league team, the New York Giants, were displeased with his early performances, returned him to the minors and demanded their money back.

 

Christy Mathewson Day is celebrated as a holiday in his hometown of Factoryville, Pennsylvania, annually on the Saturday closest to his birthday of August 12th.

 

Lou Gehrig, Columbia

1922-24

 

Columbia baseball players have come from almost every state and a number of foreign nations. But the most regarded and revered player in the University's history grew up right there on Manhattan Island, first in Yorktown and then in Washington Heights.

 

Lou Gehrig was indeed a chosen man. One of four children born to his parents, he was the only one to survive infancy. He starred in football and baseball at Commerce High, hitting a ninth-inning grand-slam home run in an inter-city game at Chicago's Wrigley Field and was recruited to Columbia by Robert Watt, then graduate manager of athletics.

 

He continued in both sports at Columbia, starting at fullback and defensive tackle on the gridiron. On the baseball diamond, he soon began to attract attention for his prodigious home runs; the two most talked about were an opposite-field shot into a second-story window of the Journalism School and another that landed across College Walk, then a through city street.

 

On April 18, 1923, when Yankee Stadium opened for the first time, ace Yankee scout Paul Krichell wasn't on hand to see it; he was at South Field to see Gehrig play. And although the big sophomore pitched that day -- he struck out 17 in a losing effort against Williams, still a Columbia record -- Krichell realized that a man who could hit like Gehrig belonged in a Yankee uniform.

 

"Columbia Lou", as he would come to be known, hit .444 that season and blasted seven home runs in 19 games. Both records stood for many years; the home run mark didn't fall until Mike Wilhite hit eight 55 years later, in 1978. He set a number of other records that have been surpassed over the years. But Gehrig wouldn't get to add to those totals; within two months after his last game, he had signed with the Yankees for a $1500 bonus.

 

Many New Yorkers wondered how he could leave Columbia before graduation. Gehrig explained to The New York Times in 1939 that "a fellow has to eat. At the end of my sophomore year my father was taken ill and we had to have money ... when there was no money coming in there was nothing for me to do but sign up."

 

By June of 1925, he had made the Yankees' starting lineup, where he would remain for 14 years, playing in 2130 consecutive games. He hit 493 home runs, batted .340 and slugged 23 grand-slam home runs, still the major league record. In a 1932 game, he became the first player in the 20th century to hit four home runs in a game.

 

But his body was failing him and in 1939 he was diagnosed with ALS, later to become known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. He bade farewell to the game in July 4 in one of the most stirring speeches ever uttered in sports. Although he never played again, he remained with the team the rest of that season.

Gehrig was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in a special election and his number was retired, the first professional athlete ever to receive that honor. In January 1940, he became a member of the Parole Board, only to relinquish the job in the spring of 1941 when his illness intensified. He died in his sleep on June 2, 1941, 17 days short of his 38th birthday.

 

Related Stories