Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson – you can’t argue with those choices among baseball’s all-time greats. They were the first five members of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Plans to build a museum devoted to baseball and its history began in 1935 when city leaders in Cooperstown decided that a Hall of Fame would help their efforts to dig out from the effects of the Depression and attract tourists. They put out the story that Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown – a story that turned out to be phony. But baseball officials gave their support anyway because they thought a Hall of Fame would be good for the game and a great way to market it.

Today the Hall of Fame attracts 350,000 visitors a year.

Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Tony LaRussa, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Joe Torre will be inducted on July 27 this year, increasing the number of members to 313, including 249 players, 26 managers, 10 umpires and 28 executives and pioneers.

Admission to induction ceremonies is free, and lawn seating is virtually unlimited. It’s first come, first served.

The first five members of the Hall of Fame were inducted on this date, January 29th, 1939.

SOURCE: Baseball Almanac