What is the first "Hall of Fame" in sports?

And who first thought of the idea?

1 Answer 1


The concept of the Hall of Fame has its roots in ancient Norse mythology. Valhalla was an enormous hall in Asgard where warriors who were slain in battle would go upon their death.

King Ludwig I of Bavaria was apparently inspired by this legend, and built two different halls inspired by the Norse legend: Walhalla near Regensburg, Bavaria (completed in 1842), and the Ruhmeshalle in Munich (completed in 1853), whose name literally means "Hall of Fame." These halls were museums containing plaques and statues of important German-speaking people, including scientists, artists, and politicians.

In 1900, the Hall of Fame for Great Americans was completed. Inspired by the Ruhmeshalle, Dr. Henry MacCracken, chancellor of New York University, conceived the idea for this hall, built in the Bronx. The hall includes Americans in a variety of categories, including authors, businessmen, inventors, clergy, scientists, artists, soldiers, and teachers, but not athletes. The name of this building is the first time that the English phrase "Hall of Fame" was used.

Unlike the halls in Germany, where the people enshrined were determined by Ludwig I, MacCracken established a nationwide body of electors made up of prominent Americans. This group held regular elections to vote on new nominees for entry into the hall.

From there, it wasn't that big of a leap to come up with the idea of a "hall of fame" dedicated to a particular sport. The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, founded in 1939, might be the first professional sports hall of fame. Sports halls of fame generally follow the model of the first hall in having entry decided by a board of electors.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.