Nellie Fox voted into Hall of Fame

March 05, 1997


Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Franklin County, Pa., native Nellie Fox, the former star second baseman for the Chicago White Sox, on Tuesday was voted into baseball's Hall of Fame by the veterans committee.

Joining him will be Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda and former Negro Leaguer Willie Wells Sr.

The vote ended a long wait for the family of Fox, a native of St. Thomas, Pa., who died of cancer in 1975 at the age of 47.

"It's been a long wait, but it's been worth it," said his wife, JoAnn Fox of Chambersburg, Pa.

"He'd probably be up in the mountains today," said JoAnn Fox. "If he didn't get the call right away, that would have been all right with him. He would have got it when he came home. He waited so long for it."


If Fox were there, "Oh, he'd probably smile and say, `I finally made it. I'm in there with all my friends,'" she said.

JoAnn Fox received the call notifying her that her husband had finally captured a spot in the Cooperstown, N.Y., shrine at 1:30 p.m.

The call capped a 20-year quest by the Nellie Fox Memorial Association to get the 1959 American League Most Valuable Player the recognition local residents felt he deserved.

"It's a feel of ... it's kind of hard to say," said Lee Kyler, secretary-treasurer of the memorial association. "I'm tickled to death because of the feeling that this has finally happened."

Kyler was one of the group of fans and friends, numbering "between six and hundreds," who made up the association, he said.

The association, formed in 1977, built a memorial to Fox in Chambersburg and started a scholarship fund in his name.

Twice before, Fox came close to making the Hall of Fame.

In 1985, he finished two votes shy of election - the slimmest margin in the shrine's history - in the balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

He was named on 295 of 395 ballots, 74.68 percent of the total, just below the 75 percent needed for induction.

Last year, Fox finally met the 75 percent criteria in the veterans vote, but was named on one less ballot than pitcher Jim Bunning. Because rules say the 15-man veterans committee can elect only one former major leaguer, Bunning went to Cooperstown and Fox had to wait.

"After he missed making it by those two votes, we started working on the veterans committee, sending them letters to make sure to keep his name in front of them," Kyler said.

That makes victory all the sweeter.

"I've talked to a couple of people so far and they are all whizzed up over this," Kyler said. "They should be. We all did a lot of work that we never saw any results from."

The veterans committee looks at candidates in four areas - former major leaguers; a composite ballot of Negro Leaguers, umpires, executives and managers; 19th century players and personnel; and Negro Leaguers.

Only the top nominee from each category can be elected to the hall, provided he is named on 75 percent - 12 votes - of the ballots.

Fox was a 12-time All-Star who batted over .300 six times and .288 during his 19-year career - 14 with the White Sox. He was the American League MVP in 1959 for the last Chicago team to make the World Series.

"There's been a lot of local people who have been behind him 150 percent, but there are a lot of people across the country who remembered him," JoAnn Fox said.

"He was such a super guy. Too bad he's not here to enjoy this ... But that's life sometimes," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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