Sewell joins Christy Mathewson (Bucknell), Lou Gehrig (Columbia) and John "Jack" Barry (Holy Cross) in the inaugural veteran class. Sewell and Gehrig were teammates and roommates during their days with the New York Yankees.
This is the third Hall of Fame induction for Sewell commemorating his illustrious baseball career. Sewell is also a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame (1977) and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
The Veteran and Historical Committees will research and nominate individuals each year from this pre-1947 era, before the entire voting committee votes them on. These collegiate legends will be officially enshrined during a two-day July celebration of college baseball in Lubbock, Texas, as 'The Past Meets Present'.
"The task of researching and evaluating the veteran nominees is difficult, because they competed prior to the collection of data that is so commonplace today. These men had no sports information personnel that kept track of their every statistic," said CBF Chairman/CEO John Askins. "While records are sketchy at best, this outstanding group had a profound impact on collegiate baseball, both nationally and in their own region, and their accomplishments have withstood the test of time.
"The pre-1947 designation is not an arbitrary demarcation," said Askins. "The first All American team for college baseball was chosen that year by the coaches, so that makes it a logical point to separate modern-day players and veteran candidates."
There is no doubt that Joe Sewell was one of the finest baseball players to ever play for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He was surrounded by an all-star cast of players that produced some of the greatest seasons in Crimson Tide lore. As UA's starting second baseman from 1918-20, Sewell teamed with another future Major Leaguer, Riggs Stephenson (SS), to form a solid double-play combination. Also, Sewell and Stephenson were regarded as two of the hardest hitters in baseball.
Sewell played on teams that posted a 42-4 (.913) record against college teams. Overall, the Crimson Tide went 44-8 (.846) en route to three Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles in 1918, 1919 and 1920. The 1918 team featured five future MLB players -- Sewell, Stephenson, Dan Boone, Francis Pratt and Lena Stiles. They posted a 13-4 record, including a 13-2 mark against college teams. The 1919 team was just as successful, as Alabama went 16-2, including a 15-1 slate against college teams. The Tide won its third straight SIAA title with a 15-2 record in 1920, including a 14-1 mark against college teams.
Sewell was the cornerstone on those successful Bama teams. In 1920, he set every hitting and fielding record at Alabama and was named to the All-SIAA team and every mythical All-America team college baseball had to offer. He batted over .300 but even more impressive was his defensive prowess at second base. He was also captain of the 1920 team.
After leading UA to the 1920 SIAA title, Sewell signed with Cleveland and played in New Orleans in the Southern League, leading them to the AA Championship. Sewell was then called up to the big leagues, where he replaced Ray Chapman, who was struck in the face and accidentally killed by a line drive, and became the Indians starting shortstop and helped the Indians to the 1920 World Series championship over the Brooklyn Nationals. Not a bad year for the Titus, Ala., native.
Sewell played 14 years in the big leagues for Cleveland and the New York Yankees, where he was Lou Gehrig's roommate. He batted .312 during his career as he amassed over 2,200 career hits. Sewell also set MLB records for fewest strikeouts in a season (4) and career (114) -- records that will never be broken. He played on two World Series championship teams with Cleveland (1920) and New York Yankees (1932). He was inducted in the MLB Hall of Fame in 1977.
Sewell returned to Alabama in 1964, at the age of 65, to coach the Crimson Tide baseball team. He compiled a 106-79 (.603) overall record in five seasons. He was forced to retire after the 1969 season at the state mandatory retirement age of 70. He led the 1968 team to a 24-14 record and the SEC Championship.