Buck O'Neil (pictured), Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat, Gil Hodges, Minnie Minoso and Bud Fowler were elected as part of the 2022 class for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Negro Leagues legends Buck O'Neil, Minnie Minoso and Bud Fowler were among six elected as part of the 2022 class for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame president Josh Rawitch announced.
Rawitch announced the electees Sunday on MLB Network. Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat also were elected. Kaat and Oliva are the only living members of the class, which will be enshrined July 24 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
"To be able to get the call at 83 years old, to be alive and to say thank you means a lot to me," Oliva told MLB Network.
Additional new Hall of Fame members, elected through the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot, will be enshrined on the same day.
"I really didn't think this day would ever come," Kaat told MLB.com. "It comes as more of a gift to me, and I'm so appreciative of the guys that I played with and against that I think rewarded durability and dependability along with dominance, which the Hall of Fame usually rewards -- rightly so."
This marks the first time Fowler, O'Neil and Minoso got the chance to make the Hall of Fame under new rules, which honor Negro Leagues contributions. MLB announced last December that it would reclassify the Negro Leagues as a major league, adding the statistics of about 3,400 players to its record book.
Hodges, Kaat, Minoso and Oliva were elected by the Golden Days Era Committee. The committee considered a 10-person ballot of players whose primary contributions came from 1950 through 1969.
Fowler and O'Neil were elected by the Early Baseball Era Committee, which considered a 10-person ballot of candidates whose primary contributions came before 1950.
The committees met Sunday in Orlando.
O'Neil was an All-Star first baseman in the Negro Leagues who went on to become the first Black coach in MLB history. As a player, he was a two-time Negro American League batting champion.
As a manager, he led the Kansas City Monarchs to four Negro American League titles. He never reached MLB as a player, but joined the Chicago Cubs coaching staff in 1962.
O'Neil also was founder and board chairman for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. He died in 2006 at 94.
Minoso also was a two-time All-Star in the Negro Leagues. The left fielder and third baseman went on to become a seven-time All-Star for the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox. In 1951, Minoso became the first Black player in White Sox history.
The Havana native, known as the "Cuban Comet," hit over .300 eight times and led the American League in stolen bases three times. He also won three Gold Gloves in left field.
Minoso died in 2015 at 89.
Fowler, a former pitcher and second baseman, is acknowledged as the first Black professional baseball player. He played for teams throughout the late 1800s and helped for the Page Fence Giants, an all-time great Black barnstorming team, in 1894.
He died in 1913 at 54.
Hodges was an eight-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner. The former first baseman spent a combined 18 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets. He won three Gold Glove Awards and two World Series titles. He hit 370 career home runs and retired in 1963.
Hodges managed the New York Mets to the 1969 World Series title. He was still Mets manager when in 1972 when he died from a heart attack at 47.
Kaat pitched for six different MLB teams over a 25-season MLB career. He was a three-time All-Star, 16-time Gold Glove Award winner and a member of the 1982 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. He logged a 3.45 ERA and 283-237 record for his career.
Kaat became a broadcaster after he retired. He worked as an analyst for MLB Network and the New York Yankees.
Oliva was a three-time American League batting champion who played for the Minnesota Twins from 1962 through 1976. The eight-time All-Star hit .304 with 220 home runs over his 15-year career.
"The Pohlad family and entire Minnesota Twins organization would like to congratulate Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat on their long-awaited and well-deserved election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame," Twins president and CEO Dave St. Peter said in a statement.
"From his prodigious on-field career to the broadcast booth, and in the hearts of fans everywhere in our region, 'Tony O' embodies what it truly means to be a Minnesota Twin and has been the greatest ambassador for this organization since his arrival in the upper Midwest.
In the same vein, 'Kitty' [Kaat] has made an indelible impact on our organization and our fans, from the 15 years he spent with the Twins/Senators franchise to his time in the broadcast booth."
Dick Allen, a long time first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, fell one vote short of election into the Hall of Fame. The 1964 National League Rookie of the Year was a seven-time All-Star and the 1972 American League MVP.
First-time Hall of Fame candidates David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez join Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Curt Schilling on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot. Voting results from that ballot will be announced Jan. 25.