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Former Yankees owner Ruppert, two others inducted into HOF

Former New York Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert was among three men inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on a rainy Sunday in upstate New York.

Ruppert, who owned the Yankees from 1915 until his death in 1939, was joined by umpire Hank O'Day and 19th century catcher Deacon White.

All three were elected by the pre-integration committee and posthumously enshrined into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, marking the first ceremony without a living inductee since 1965. The trio was represented Sunday by their heirs.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America, for the first time since 1996, failed to elect any modern-day candidates in January.

Meanwhile, the pre-integration committee considered those whose contributions to the game were most significant from baseball origins through 1946.

Ruppert helped transform the Yankees, as well as baseball in general, by purchasing Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox before the 1920 season and building Yankee Stadium in 1923. The Yankees won 10 American League pennants and seven World Series titles under his ownership.

"For my family, it's a huge honor," said Anne Vernon, a great grandniece of Ruppert.

O'Day, who passed away on July 2, 1935, umpired in the first modern World Series in 1903, one of 10 times that he worked the Fall Classic. O'Day was a National League umpire for 30 years and made the defining call in the famous 1908 Giants vs. Cubs contest that featured Johnny Evers forcing out Fred Merkle at second base after what appeared to be the game-winning hit.

"Even though he was a native of Chicago, no one questioned him," Dennis McNamara, a great grandnephew of O'Day, said of the famous call. "They knew his only motive was to get the call right."

O'Day becomes the 10th umpire elected to the Hall of Fame.

White played 20 seasons for teams in the National Association, the National League and the Players League, compiling 2,067 hits in only 1,560 games. He led his league in batting average twice and RBI three times, and was a standout bare-handed defensive catcher before switching to third base later in his career. White passed away on July 7, 1939.

"In my heart I never believed this day would come...but you have to remember, Cubs fans are really good at waiting," joked Jerry Watkins, a great grandson of White.

Also honored this weekend were legendary Toronto Blue Jays voice Tom Cheek and Philadelphia writer Paul Hagen.

Cheek, who died in 2005, was selected as the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for major contributions to baseball broadcasting.

Hagen was selected as the winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, presented yearly by the Baseball Writers' Association of America for meritorious contributions to baseball writing.