On this date in 2008, the National Baseball Hall of Fame holds its Induction Ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York, as Dodger owner Walter O’Malley is one of the inductees in the “Class of 2008.” Elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee on December 3, 2007, O’Malley was the full-time owner of the Dodgers, the most accomplished franchise in the modern era, from 1950-79.
In 1999, ABC Sports Century Panel named visionary O’Malley in its Top 10 Most Influential People “off the field” in sports history, while The Sporting News named O’Malley the 11th Most Powerful Person in Sports in the last century. O’Malley is widely-recognized for the westward expansion of baseball in 1958 and for helping to design, build, maintain and privately finance Dodger Stadium, which opened on April 10, 1962.
Through the years, he developed and enhanced Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida, including privately building Holman Stadium, opened in 1953, which is still in use today for professional and amateur games and events.
Under O’Malley’s leadership, the Dodgers became the “gold standard” of baseball franchises, winning four World Championships (1955, 1959, 1963 and 1965) and 11 National League Pennants. Of the 317 members enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, there are only 30 in the category “Pioneers/Executives,” including O’Malley.
The “2008 Hall of Fame Class” also included premium relief pitcher Rich “Goose” Gossage; Bowie Kuhn, fifth Commissioner of Baseball from 1969-84; Barney Dreyfuss, first owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates and one of the “fathers” of the modern World Series; Cardinals’ and Braves’ Manager Billy Southworth, who has the second-best all-time winning percentage at .597 and two World titles; and Manager & former Dodger player Dick Williams, who managed 21 seasons with six different teams, winning two World Championships for Oakland.
An exhibit featuring several unique O’Malley items was on display in the National Baseball Hall of Fame for a year (2008-2009).