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 . 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.
Between 1971 and 1977, nine players from the Negro Leagues were inducted by a special Negro Leagues Committee, which was given the task of identifying worthy players who played in the Negro Leagues prior to the breaking of baseball's color line . Since 1977, players from the Negro Leagues have been considered by the Veterans Committee, and nine more individuals have been approved by that body.  In 2005, the Hall announced the formation of a Committee on African-American Baseball, which held a 2006 election for eligible figures from the Negro Leagues and earlier 19th-century teams;  17 additional Negro League figures were chosen in that election, including executive Effa Manley , the first woman inducted. 
For his contributions, Humber was made an honorary inductee into the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004 and is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, which is awarded to Canadians who have made outstanding and exemplary contributions to their communities or to Canada as a whole. Humber also serves on the selection committee for Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and for the Clarington Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2006, he was elected to the Black Ice Hockey and Sports Hall of Fame in the writers category. He continues to be a regular contributor on baseball matters to radio and TV shows throughout Canada and the .