The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an American history museum and hall of fame, located at 25 Main Street in Cooperstown, New York, operated by private interests serving as the central point for the study of the history of baseball in the United States and beyond, the display of baseball-related artifacts and exhibits, and the honoring of persons who have excelled in playing, managing, and serving the sport. The Hall's motto is "Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations."
The Hall of Fame was dedicated on June 12, 1939. Stephen Carlton Clark was owner of a local hotel and sought to bring tourists to Cooperstown, which had been suffering economically when the Great Depression significantly reduced the local tourist trade and Prohibition devastated the local hops industry. His granddaughter, Jane Forbes Clark, is the current Chairman of the Board of Directors. The erroneous claim that U.S. Civil War hero Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown, a claim made by former National League president Abraham G. Mills and his 1905 Mills Commission, was instrumental in the early marketing of the Hall.
Among baseball fans, "Hall of Fame" means not only the museum and facility in Cooperstown, New York, but the pantheon of players, managers, umpires, executives, and pioneers who have been enshrined in the Hall. The first five men elected were Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson, named in 1936. As of January 2011, 295 individuals had been elected to the Hall of Fame, including 205 former Major Leaguers, 35 Negro Leaguers, 19 managers, 9 umpires, and 27 pioneers, executives, and organizers. The newest members are Andre Dawson, umpire Doug Harvey and manager Whitey Herzog; the induction class of 2011, which will enter the Hall in July of that year, will consist of players Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven plus executive Pat Gillick. In addition to honoring Hall of Fame inductees, the National Baseball Hall of Fame has presented 34 men with the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting, and 61 with the J. G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in baseball writing. While Frick and Spink Award honorees are not members of the Hall of Fame, they are recognized in an exhibit in the Hall of Fame's library.