Shrine of the Eternals Class of 2016

On May 4, 2016, the Board of Directors of the Baseball Reliquary announced the eighteenth class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals.  The Shrine of the Eternals is the national organization’s equivalent to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Don Newcombe, Bo Jackson, and Arnold Hano were elected upon receiving the highest number of votes in balloting conducted during the month of April 2016 by the membership of the Baseball Reliquary.  The three electees will be formally inducted into the Shrine of the Eternals in a public ceremony on Sunday, July 17, 2016 at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, Pasadena, California.

Of the fifty eligible candidates on the 2016 ballot, Don Newcombe received the highest voting percentage, being named on 42% of the ballots returned.  Following Newcombe were Bo Jackson with 38% and Arnold Hano with 26%.  Runners-up in this year’s election included Chet Brewer (25.3%), Charlie Brown (24.7%), Charlie Finley (24.7%), Bob Costas (24%), and Rocky Colavito (23.3%).  Voting percentages for all fifty candidates appear at the end of this announcement.

Don Newcombe

Don Newcombe

Elected to the Shrine of the Eternals in his first year on the ballot, DON NEWCOMBE, born in 1926, was a power pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1949-1957.  He posted several 20-win seasons during an award-winning career, but he would find his life and livelihood cursed by personal demons.  At 6’ 4” and 220 pounds, Newcombe cut an intimidating figure on the mound.  Indeed, “Newk” was the most feared pitcher in baseball for several glorious seasons with the Dodgers during the franchise’s glory days in Brooklyn. He copped Rookie of the Year honors in 1949 after posting a 17-8 record, and in 1951 he became the first African American pitcher to win 20 games in a season.  After losing two of his prime years to military service, he rebounded in 1956 with an excellent 27-7 campaign, for which he was named the National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner.  He was the first player ever to win all three awards during his career.  Despite his success during the regular season, Newcombe went 0-4 in five World Series starts, and was the starting pitcher in the final playoff game against the Giants in 1951 – the famous “Miracle at Coogan’s Bluff” won by Bobby Thomson’s dramatic ninth-inning home run off Dodgers reliever Ralph Branca.  Fans unfairly scapegoated Newk for his postseason failures, but those losses were more a result of exhaustion and overuse than an inability to win in the clutch.  The last living Dodgers link to Jackie Robinson, Newcombe battled the same virulent racism his teammate had experienced for most of his career.  He also fought a war against another enemy: alcohol.  As with too many other great athletes, Newk’s career went into freefall as his drinking problem accelerated.  After 1956 he would have only one more winning season, a 13-8 effort with the Cincinnati Reds in 1959.  This baseball warrior ultimately whipped alcohol abuse, only to find a new foe – cancer – lurking in the shadows.  In 1970, ten years after his playing career ended, he was tabbed by the L.A. Dodgers to run baseball’s first community relations program.  Newk, now 89, remains a fixture at Dodger Stadium.

Bo Jackson

Bo Jackson

Elected to the Shrine of the Eternals in his fourth year on the ballot, VINCENT EDWARD “BO” JACKSON, born in 1962, remains one of the most recognizable names in American athletics even though he hasn’t appeared on a field of play in over twenty years.  Bo knew football.  At Auburn University, where he starred in both football and track, Jackson won the 1985 Heisman Trophy as the best collegiate football player in America.  He would later thrill fans of the Los Angeles Raiders in the NFL with his electrifying runs from scrimmage.  Bo knew baseball.  Unlike other gridiron stars who found the diamond a personal field of screams (Jim Thorpe), Bo excelled as an outfielder and designated hitter for the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, and California Angels in the years 1986-1994.  His titanic home run in the 1989 All-Star Game, for which he was named MVP, still hasn’t returned to earth’s atmosphere.  Bo knew marketing.  Beginning in 1989, the Nike athletic shoe company started running one of the most successful ad campaigns in history with a series of “Bo Knows” television spots, featuring Bo and other celebrities (like another famous Bo – Bo Diddley).  The future for Bo Jackson was unlimited.  He was in his athletic prime and well on the way to joining Jack Dempsey, Babe Ruth, and Muhammad Ali in the roll call of America’s greatest 20th-century sports legends.  He was a professional baseball and football All-Star, an accomplishment that no one else can claim.  He was a college football legend.  He was a media and video game darling.  He was everything that Deion Sanders wished he could be, but couldn’t.  In a 1991 playoff game between the NFL Bengals and Bo’s Raiders, Jackson sustained a career-threatening, and ultimately career-ending, hip injury.  After surgery and rehabilitation, Bo tried basketball for a bit (Bo knew hoops, too!), before attempting a baseball comeback.  In his first at-bat with the White Sox in 1993, he belted a home run against the Yankees.  His power was still evident (he would be named recipient of the 1993 Comeback Player of the Year Award), but the injury had robbed him of his speed.  He retired as a member of the Angels during the 1994 baseball strike.  Since then, Bo remained a fixture in sports, advertising, and gaming for several more years before moving on to a number of other business and charitable concerns.  Bo still knows.

Arnold Hano

Arnold Hano

Elected to the Shrine of the Eternals in his first year on the ballot, ARNOLD HANO, born in 1922, is a prolific writer and social activist.  Few baseball books have weathered the decades better than A Day in the Bleachers, an eyewitness account of Game One of the 1954 World Series written by Hano.  The author had recently left a job as editor for a firm that produced fiction by such now well-known writers as David Goodis and Jim Thompson, and was determined to make his mark as a journalist.  Call it serendipity, call it fate, call it plain old dumb luck – Hano was in the right place at the right time to document one of the greatest plays in baseball history, the celebrated over-the-shoulder catch by Willie Mays of Vic Wertz’s titanic centerfield blast.  The book became a model for first-person reporting on baseball games, its unique point of view revolutionizing the staid sports journalism of the day.  The popular and critical success of A Day in the Bleachers catapulted Hano into the highest ranks of freelance journalism; his byline soon became ubiquitous in periodicals such as Sport, Sports Illustrated, The Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, and both the New York and Los Angeles Times.  He also published biographies on athletes Mays, Sandy Koufax, Roberto Clemente, Muhammad Ali, and others, and was a regular contributor to baseball annuals.  His career climaxed in 1964 when he was named 1963’s Magazine Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and received the 1963 Sidney Hillman Memorial Award in magazine journalism for a muckraking study of the miserable conditions faced by immigrant farm workers in California’s Central Valley.  Hano (pronounced HEY-no) moved to Laguna Beach, California in 1955, where he still makes his home.  He is the subject of the 2015 documentary HANO! A Life in the Bleachers by filmmaker Jon Leonoudakis.  His description of “The Catch” is still referenced, cited, and reprinted in whole or in part, thrilling a new generation of baseball fans and aspiring sportswriters.

Don Newcombe, Bo Jackson, and Arnold Hano will join 51 other baseball luminaries who have been inducted into the Shrine of the Eternals since elections began in 1999, including, in alphabetical order, Jim Abbott, Dick Allen, Roger Angell, Emmett Ashford, Moe Berg, Sy Berger, Yogi Berra, Steve Bilko, Ila Borders, Jim Bouton, Jim Brosnan, Bill Buckner, Glenn Burke, Roberto Clemente, Steve Dalkowski, Dizzy Dean, Rod Dedeaux, Jim Eisenreich, Dock Ellis, Eddie Feigner, Mark Fidrych, Curt Flood, Ted Giannoulas, Josh Gibson, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, Pete Gray, William “Dummy” Hoy, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Bill James, Dr. Frank Jobe, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Roger Maris, Marvin Miller, Minnie Minoso, Manny Mota, Lefty O’Doul, Buck O’Neil, Satchel Paige, Jimmy Piersall, Pam Postema, Jackie Robinson, Rachel Robinson, Lester Rodney, Pete Rose, Casey Stengel, Luis Tiant, Fernando Valenzuela, Bill Veeck, Jr., Maury Wills, Kenichi Zenimura, and Don Zimmer.

THE SHRINE OF THE ETERNALS:  2016 VOTING PERCENTAGES

  • Don Newcombe – 42.0%
  • Bo Jackson – 38.0%
  • Arnold Hano – 26.0%
  • Chet Brewer – 25.3%
  • Charlie Brown – 24.7%
  • Charlie Finley – 24.7%
  • Bob Costas – 24.0%
  • Rocky Colavito – 23.3%
  • Luke Easter – 22.7%
  • Charles M. Conlon – 21.3%
  • J.R. Richard – 21.3%
  • Effa Manley – 20.7%
  • Nancy Faust – 19.3%
  • Ernie Harwell – 19.3%
  • Hideo Nomo – 19.3%
  • Pete Reiser – 19.3%
  • Jose Canseco – 18.7%
  • Lisa Fernandez – 18.7%
  • Mamie Johnson – 18.7%
  • Dr. Mike Marshall – 18.7%
  • Bert Campaneris – 18.0%
  • Denny McLain – 17.3%
  • Rube Foster – 16.0%
  • Fred Merkle – 16.0%
  • Annie Savoy – 16.0%
  • Ted Kluszewski – 15.3%
  • Tug McGraw – 14.7%
  • Bing Russell – 14.7%
  • Rube Waddell – 14.7%
  • Reuben Berman – 14.0%
  • Joe Pepitone – 14.0%
  • Rusty Staub – 14.0%
  • Margaret Donahue – 13.3%
  • Phil Pote – 13.3%
  • Vic Power – 13.3%
  • Charley Pride – 13.3%
  • John Young – 13.3%
  • Octavius V. Catto – 12.0%
  • Daniel Okrent – 12.0%
  • Steve Wilstein – 12.0%
  • Dave Parker – 11.3%
  • Chris Von der Ahe – 11.3%
  • Mike Hessman – 10.7%
  • Dan Quisenberry – 10.7%
  • John Montgomery Ward – 10.0%
  • Wayne Doba – 7.3%
  • Isabel Alvarez – 6.7%
  • Emilio Cordova – 6.7%
  • Billy Scripture – 4.0%
  • Dr. David Tracy – 0.7%
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