Chandler, Jackson honored in Class of 1982

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Craig Muder

Happy Chandler and Travis Jackson each helped baseball build bridges to a new era.

In 1982, they were rewarded with the game’s greatest honor.

On March 10, 1982, the Hall’s Veterans Committee elected Chandler and Jackson. They joined Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson, elected earlier that winter by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, in the star-studded Class of 1982.

“I had reason to believe they were going to pass me by because 31 years had passed since I left the Commissioner’s office,” Chandler told the Associated Press.

Chandler took over as baseball’s second commissioner in 1945, succeeding Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

He served just one term before team owners voted not to renew his contract in December of 1950.

But in that time, Chandler helped transition the game to post-war status when hundreds of big leaguers returned to the diamond, guided the teams through the emerging technology partner of television and – in a decision that caused a seismic shift in American culture – oversaw the integration of the game with Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Dodgers in 1947.

“If baseball had listened to some of his progressive ideas,” said Veterans Committee member Gabe Paul, “particularly as related to its relationship with the players, the game would have avoided a lot of its future problems.”

Chandler, 83 at the time of his election, was elected to two terms as the Governor of Kentucky – before and after he was baseball’s commissioner – and also served in the United States Senate.

Jackson, a native of Waldo, Ark., played 15 seasons for the New York Giants from 1922-36, helping his teams win five pennants and two World Series titles.

Debuting in the big leagues at age 18, Jackson hit better than .300 in six seasons and finished with a .291 average and 929 RBI.

Following his playing career, Jackson was a longtime manager in the Braves system – helping develop future big leaguers like Rico Carty, Bobby Knoop and Denis Menke.

“Jackson could do everything,” said Veterans Committee member and fellow Hall of Fame shortstop Joe Cronin, whose playing career intersected with Jackson’s. “He had a great arm.”

Jackson led all National League shortstops in assists four times, fielding percentage twice and double plays twice. He also finished in the Top 10 of his league in sacrifice bunts three times.

“Jackson was the best bunter I ever saw,” Veterans Committee member Al López told the New York Daily News. “He’d drop his hands before he swung, so you could never tell when he was going to bunt. He drove the third basemen crazy.”

The Class of 1982 was inducted on Aug. 1 in Cooperstown.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series