Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day: July 19, 2015

Shrine of the Eternals Class of 2015

Shrine of the Eternals Class of 2015

The Baseball Reliquary will present the 2015 Induction Day ceremony for its seventeenth class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals on Sunday, July 19, 2015, beginning at 2:00 p.m., at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, California.  Admission is open to the public and free of charge.  Please note that seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Once seating capacity has been reached, we will have to turn people away at the door.  We encourage attendees to arrive no later than 1:30 p.m. when the auditorium doors open.  The inductees will be Sy Berger, Glenn Burke, and Steve Bilko.  The keynote address will be delivered by Charlie Vascellaro.  In addition, the Baseball Reliquary will honor the recipients of the 2015 Hilda Award, Tom Keefe, and the 2015 Tony Salin Memorial Award, Gary Joseph Cieradkowski.

For further information, contact the Baseball Reliquary by phone at (626) 791-7647 or by e-mail at terymar@earthlink.net.  The 2015 Induction Day is co-sponsored by the Pasadena Public Library and is made possible, in part, by a grant to the Baseball Reliquary from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

Following is a brief preview of the day’s festivities:

The program will commence with an Induction Day tradition, the ceremonial bell ringing in honor of the late Brooklyn Dodgers fan Hilda Chester; everyone who attends is encouraged to bring a bell to ring for the occasion.  The National Anthem and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” will be performed by Ross Altman and Jackie Lee.

Tom Keefe

Tom Keefe

The first presentation will be the Hilda Award, established in memory of legendary Brooklyn Dodgers fan Hilda Chester to recognize distinguished service to the game by a baseball fan.  The 2015 recipient, TOM KEEFE, is founder and president of the Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter #1, which promotes the legacy of Gaedel’s historic walk into baseball immortality as a member of the St. Louis Browns in 1951.  The society meets annually on August 19th, the anniversary of Gaedel’s one plate appearance, at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille & Pub in Spokane.  When not out spreading the “Gaedel Gospel” across America, Keefe can usually be found lunching at O’Doherty’s, where a shrine to Eddie Gaedel is located above the bar.

Gary Cieradkowski 2

The second presentation will be the Tony Salin Memorial Award, named in memory of the late baseball author and historian, and established to recognize individuals for their commitment to the preservation of baseball history.  The 2015 recipient, GARY JOSEPH CIERADKOWSKI, is an award-winning graphic artist and illustrator, and the creative force behind The Infinite Baseball Card Set blog, for which he has designed and produced a series of baseball cards, now numbering close to 200 entries, which resembles the tobacco cards of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Cieradkowski is also the author and illustrator of the recently-published book The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes, which spotlights baseball’s forgotten heroes, barnstormers, journeymen, rogues, and stars before they were famous.

Charlie Vascellaro

Charlie Vascellaro

Following the award presentations, the 2015 keynote address will be delivered by CHARLIE VASCELLARO, an author, traveler, historian, raconteur, bibliophile, and baseball fan.  A former twenty-year resident of Arizona, Vascellaro is renowned for his presentations on the history of the Cactus League.  Currently a resident of Baltimore, he has written for the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, and on MLB.com; has authored biographies of Hank Aaron and Manny Ramirez; and is working on a revised edition of Baseball: An Encyclopedia of Pop Culture.  On non-game days, he can be found on either side of the bar, pouring drinks or spilling stories.

Sy Berger (photo courtesy Maxine Berger)

Sy Berger (photo courtesy of Maxine Berger)

The keynote address will be followed by the formal induction of the 2015 class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals.  Frequently cited as the father of the modern baseball card, SY BERGER (1923-2014) joined the Topps Company, manufacturer of chewing gum, as a sales promotion executive after World War II.  In 1952 he designed the template for, and oversaw the production of, an annual series of baseball trading cards that would quickly emerge as the most coveted pop culture artifacts of the 1950s and 1960s – the Topps baseball card – and send the fortunes of the company soaring.  Berger’s induction will be accepted by his daughter, MAXINE BERGER, and will be introduced by his son, GLENN BERGER, who will share a collection of wonderful stories about the man who was instrumental in transforming an insignificant childhood diversion into an important, and highly profitable, facet of American culture.

Glenn Burke (courtesy of Paula Hunt)

Glenn Burke (photo courtesy of Paula Hunt)

A fleet, capable outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics during a four-year major league career from 1976 through 1979, GLENN BURKE (1952-1995) was the first big league ballplayer to publicly acknowledge he was gay.  Although his public disclosure came after he had retired, Burke’s sexual preference was well known during his playing days, and he encountered widespread homophobia from locker rooms to board rooms.  After quitting professional baseball in frustration, Burke became active in amateur athletic competition, competing in the 1982 and 1986 Gay Games in basketball and track.  He died of complications from AIDS-related illness in 1995.  Burke’s induction will be accepted by his sister, PAULA HUNT, and will be introduced by media producer/director DOUG HARRIS, who co-produced the 2010 documentary, OUT: The Glenn Burke Story.

Steve Bilko (photo courtesy of Stephen R. Bilko)

Steve Bilko (photo courtesy of Stephen R. Bilko)

A moon-faced first baseman, STEVE BILKO (1928-1978) wrapped a so-so major league career around a legendary stint in the Pacific Coast League, where he paced the circuit in home runs for three consecutive seasons (1955 to 1957), and won the PCL’s Triple Crown in 1956 with a phenomenal display of slugging for the Los Angeles Angels.  Astutely drafted by the expansion Angels of the American League in 1961, the extraordinarily popular Bilko made further inroads into pop culture immortality as the source for the name of the Phil Silvers’ character, Sgt. Bilko, on the actor’s television program.  Bilko, who also played for the 1958 Dodgers, hit the last home run at L.A.’s Wrigley Field in the last game of the 1961 season.  Bilko’s induction will be accepted by his eldest son, STEPHEN R. BILKO, and will be co-introduced by sportswriter and journalist JOHN SCHULIAN and historian GAYLON H. WHITE, author of The Bilko Athletic Club: The Story of the 1956 Los Angeles Angels.

At the conclusion of the program, there will be a book signing by Gary Joseph Cieradkowski (The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes) and Gaylon H. White (The Bilko Athletic Club: The Story of the 1956 Los Angeles Angels).  Both books will be available for purchase.

Free parking is available in the University of Phoenix underground parking structure, which is located just north of the Pasadena Central Library on the corner of Garfield Avenue and Corson Street.  The entrance to the parking structure is on Garfield.

Before and after the ceremony, we invite you to visit the Baseball Reliquary exhibition, A Baseball Buffet (July 5-July 30), which is being presented throughout the Pasadena Central Library in the display cases in the North Entry, Reading Wing, Humanities Wing, and Centennial Room.

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