Homer and the Baseball Hall of Fame

Homer Osterhoudt

It was September of 1937 and the Baseball Hall of Fame was about to move into a building of its own. Previously the National Baseball Museum, which was its name at the time, had been housed in the Village Club along with the Otsego County Historical Museum, but Cooperstown was about to change in a way the residents at the time couldn't imagine.

On February 3rd of the previous year (1936) the Baseball Writers Association of America had elected the first class of inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson had made the cut – appearing on 75 percent of the 226 ballots that were cast. Now, Cooperstown was preparing for the Centennial Celebration of Baseball, slated to take place in the summer of 1939, and a new building for the Baseball Hall of Fame seemed appropriate.

Enter 19-year-old Cooperstown resident Homer Osterhoudt. Homer was in the market for a new job in September of 1937. Summer was winding down, which meant the golf course where he caddied would be shutting down for the winter soon, and he had heard that the Bedford Construction Company of Utica was looking for help to build the new Hall. Homer got the job and in the coming months he would mix concrete in front of Cooperstown's post office, move that concrete across the street to the new Hall and help construct a scaffolding outside the building.

Fast forward to June 12, 1939. Homer woke early that sunny summer day, grabbed his camera and made his way down to Cooperstown's rail station. Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson, Eddie Collins, Connie Mack, Cy Young, George Sissler, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Tris Speaker, and Nap Lajoie were scheduled to arrive, and Homer wanted to make sure he was there to capture the event on film. By the end of the day Homer had dozens of photos of the ballplayers as they stepped off the train, participated in the Induction ceremony and played ball at the legendary Doubleday Field.

In the 74 years since, Homer has managed to attend 66 out of the 69 induction ceremonies, and serve his country in WWII stationed in Australia and the Philippines as part of the Army Air Corp. Click pictures from the Baseball Hall of Fame's first induction ceremony on June 12, 1939 if you'd like to check out Homer's pictures.