Candidates for 2017 Election of the Shrine of the Eternals

The Baseball Reliquary, Inc. has announced its list of fifty eligible candidates for the 2017 election of the Shrine of the Eternals, the membership organization’s equivalent to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This year marks the nineteenth annual election of the Shrine, a major national component of the Baseball Reliquary, a Southern California-based organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history. The fifty-four individuals previously elected to the Shrine of the Eternals are, 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, Arnold Hano, William “Dummy” Hoy, Bo Jackson, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Bill James, Dr. Frank Jobe, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Roger Maris, Marvin Miller, Minnie Minoso, Manny Mota, Don Newcombe, 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 is similar in concept to the annual elections held at the Baseball Hall of Fame, but differs philosophically in that statistical accomplishment is not a criterion for election. Rather, the Shrine’s annual ballot is comprised of individuals – from the obscure to the well-known – who have altered the baseball world in ways that supersede statistics.

On a procedural level, the Shrine of the Eternals differs significantly from the Baseball Hall of Fame in the manner by which electees are chosen. While the Baseball Hall of Fame’s electees are chosen in voting conducted by a select group of sportswriters or committees, the Baseball Reliquary chooses its enshrinees by a vote open to the public. A screening committee appointed by the Reliquary’s Board of Directors prepares a ballot consisting of fifty candidates, on which the membership votes annually. The three candidates receiving the highest percentage of votes gain automatic election.

Among the fifty eligible candidates for 2017, eight individuals appear on the Shrine of the Eternals ballot for the first time, and two (Leo Durocher and Bob Uecker) return after a long absence. The newcomers and newly returned, in alphabetical order, are:

Babe Dahlgren (1912-1996) – Slick-fielding MLB player who had the unenviable task of replacing Lou Gehrig at first base for the Yankees in 1939. After unfounded charges of drug use derailed his career in the 1940s, he developed the idea of using motion pictures as a tool for hitters to improve their batting eye, the first to do so. Dahlgren was also among the first to keep detailed notes, on index cards, charting pitching and hitting tendencies. Today, these practices and tools have evolved into the vast database of instructional materials used by every team throughout Organized Baseball.

Mo’ne Davis (b. 2001) – The first girl ever to pitch and win a game in the Little League World Series (a shutout to boot), her landmark performance in 2014 as a member of South Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons did more to inspire young béisbolistas than almost anyone before her. The success of the now fifteen-year-old African American prodigy, the only Little Leaguer ever to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, made it possible for girls around the globe to do more than dream about a future in baseball: competing at a high level within men’s professional baseball is now a real and distinct possibility.

Leo Durocher (1905-1991) – One of baseball’s most colorful and controversial figures, “The Lip” was a ubiquitous presence in the game as both player and manager for five decades. A born hustler, the streetwise Durocher – dubbed “The All-American Out” by teammate Babe Ruth – turned a so-so playing career into a legendary managing career through grit, guts, and smarts. Often associated with gamblers, gangsters, and women of questionable virtue, Durocher was suspended for the year in 1947 as manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers for behavior that “stained” the moral character of the game.  “Lippy” would thus miss Jackie Robinson’s groundbreaking inaugural season, but would find solace shortly afterward, while manager of the crosstown rival New York Giants, in nurturing the career of a young Willie Mays. His name is forever linked to the misquoted mantra that guides all obsessed competitors: “Nice guys finish last.”  Elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.

Oscar Gamble (b. 1949) – Sweet-swinging former outfielder and designated hitter for seven teams between 1969 and 1985. He achieved his greatest success as a member of the 1977 Chicago White Sox, the fabled South Side Hitmen, and the Bronx Zoo-era Yankees of the mid-1970s, his left-handed stroke perfect for Yankee Stadium’s short right-field porch. He is credited for this succinct expression of the carnivalesque atmosphere surrounding George Steinbrenner’s tumultuous Yankees club: “They don’t think it be like it is, but it do.” An extremely cool and hip dude, Gamble’s out-sized Afro, which sprouted wildly from beneath his cap, epitomizes the “Big Hair and Plastic Grass” era of baseball in the 1970s.

Sam Nahem (1915-2004) – Pitcher of moderate talent (lifetime 10‒8 record; 4.69 ERA) but prodigious intellect who is best remembered for lifelong liberal leanings and post-baseball work as a union organizer. Raised in a Syrian Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood, usually the only New York Jew his teammates would ever know, “Subway Sam” made his MLB debut in 1938 and pitched until military and other obligations interrupted his career in 1943. While stationed in Europe at war’s end in 1945, he and Negro League pitcher Leon Day led the integrated Overseas Invasion Service Expedition all-stars to victory over an all-white Army nine loaded with professionals in games played at Nuremburg, Germany, the site of Hitler’s epic Nazi rallies. The perspicacious Nahem often read books in the dugout, his love of language evident when asked by a Brooklyn sportswriter how his abysmal pitching was helping the Dodgers: “I am now in the egregiously anonymous position of pitching batting practice to the batting practice pitchers.”

Manuel “Shorty” Perez (1904-1981) – Beloved manager of the Carmelita Chorizeros (“Sausage Makers”), one of the most popular and successful semi-professional teams in Southern California baseball history. Beginning in 1947, Perez led the East Los Angeles Chorizeros to many league and city championships during a tenure that ended only with his death thirty-five years later. In addition to his position as the prince of barrio baseball, Perez was a tireless presence within his community, mentoring many young men who would later become highly respected civic leaders. His boundless love for the game was reflected in his dying wish – to be buried wearing his Carmelita uniform, with a baseball signed by former players clutched in his hand.

Manny Ramirez (b. 1972) – One of the current era’s greatest right-handed batters and member of the all-time, all-star roster of baseball flakes and eccentrics. Born in the Dominican Republic but raised on the mean streets of New York City, the young Ramirez was among the top schoolboy players in the country when selected in the first round of the amateur draft by the Cleveland Indians in 1991. His potent bat resurrected the Tribe’s fortunes in the nineties, and would be used later to great effect by the Boston Red Sox throughout the 2000s. While with Boston, the Sox finally broke the Curse of the Bambino by winning the World Series in 2004, with Ramirez receiving World Series MVP kudos. After moving to the Dodgers in 2008 he became an instant fan favorite, a sign reading “Mannywood” behind left field erected in his honor. A member of the 500 home run club and owner of a lifetime .312 batting average, this surefire Hall of Fame inductee is best remembered for his many mental lapses, indifferent outfield play, and lovably kooky behavior. Whenever a Ramirez miscue or brain freeze occurred during a game, it would be chalked up as just the latest example of “Manny being Manny.”

Vin Scully (b. 1927) – The great bard of baseball broadcasting who served as the urbane and lyrical voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 years. Considered by many to be the greatest sportscaster of all time, he also broadcast a total of twenty-eight World Series to a national audience: his iconic calls of the Bill Buckner muff in 1986 and Kirk Gibson’s heroic home run in 1988 have now passed into legend. Scully’s descriptions of events occurring on the diamond, punctuated with vivid reveries, poetic anecdotes, and spontaneous riffs retrieved from his vast store of baseball memories, enthralled generations of baseball fans. Always eloquent and gentlemanly, Scully’s retirement at the end of the 2016 season was a milestone in baseball history – widely commemorated across America – culminating with the presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to him at the White House in November.

John Thorn (b. 1947) – Erudite, gifted baseball historian and cultural commentator who helped usher in the sabermetric revolution, thus overturning received ideas about on-field performance, and wrote numerous essays, articles, and books that illuminated previously obscure chapters in the history of early baseball. His unsurpassed knowledge of and passion for baseball history are clearly evident in Ken Burns’ multi-part Baseball documentary, and are often on display in other films and television programs devoted to the sport. Since 2011 he has served as the official historian for Major League Baseball.

Bob Uecker (b. 1935) – Lowly backup catcher with a career .200 batting average who retired in 1967, after six seasons of uninspired play, to emerge later as an unexpected media celebrity. Uecker’s wry wit and self-deprecating humor, based on episodes from his baseball career, propelled him to pop culture stardom. Well-remembered guest spots on The Tonight Show led to appearances in TV ads for light beer (“I must be in the front roooow”) and other products, culminating in a recurring role in the sitcom Mr. Belvedere. This unlikely and successful transformation continued to develop in baseball-themed film comedies (Major League) and a host of other entertainment vehicles. “Mr. Baseball” has been the radio broadcast voice of his hometown Milwaukee Brewers since 1971, and was honored by the Hall of Fame in 2003 with its Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting.

A complete list of all fifty candidates for the 2017 election of the Shrine of the Eternals follows. Election packets, containing ballots and biographical profiles of all candidates, will be mailed to Baseball Reliquary members on April 1, 2017. To be eligible to vote, all persons must have their minimum $25.00 annual membership dues paid as of March 31, 2017.

The three new inductees will be announced in May, with the Induction Day ceremony scheduled for Sunday, July 16, 2017. In addition to the presentation of plaques to the 2017 inductees, this year’s ceremony will honor the recipients of the 2017 Hilda Award (named in memory of Hilda Chester and acknowledging a baseball fan’s exceptional devotion to the game) and the 2017 Tony Salin Memorial Award (presented annually to an individual dedicated to the preservation of baseball history).

For additional information on the Shrine of the Eternals, contact Terry Cannon, Executive Director of the Baseball Reliquary, at P.O. Box 1850, Monrovia, CA 91017; by phone at (626) 791-7647; or by e-mail at terymar@earthlink.net.

 

THE SHRINE OF THE ETERNALS: CANDIDATES FOR THE 2017 ELECTION

The number to the right of candidates’ names indicates the number of years on the Shrine of the Eternals ballot.

1. Reuben Berman (2)

2. Chet Brewer (18)

3. Charlie Brown (10)

4. Bert Campaneris (6)

5. Jose Canseco (6)

6. Octavius V. Catto (5)

7. Rocky Colavito (5)

8. Charles M. Conlon (16)

9. Bob Costas (4)

10. Babe Dahlgren (New!)

11. Mo’ne Davis (New!)

12. Margaret Donahue (4)

13. Leo Durocher (3)

14. Luke Easter (3)

15. Nancy Faust (3)

16. Lisa Fernandez (17)

17. Charlie Finley (7)

18. Rube Foster (19)

19. Oscar Gamble (New!)

20. Ernie Harwell (14)

21. Mike Hessman (2)

22. Mamie Johnson (4)

23. Ted Kluszewski (2)

24. Effa Manley (19)

25. Dr. Mike Marshall (12)

26. Tug McGraw (14)

27. Denny McLain (4)

28. Fred Merkle (11)

29. Sam Nahem (New!)

30. Hideo Nomo (6)

31. Daniel Okrent (3)

32. Dave Parker (4)

33. Joe Pepitone (7)

34. Manuel “Shorty” Perez (New!)

35. Phil Pote (15)

36. Vic Power (9)

37. Charley Pride (3)

38. Manny Ramirez (New!)

39. Pete Reiser (5)

40. J.R. Richard (18)

41. Bing Russell (2)

42. Annie Savoy (7)

43. Vin Scully (New!)

44. Rusty Staub (12)

45. John Thorn (New!)

46. Bob Uecker (2)

47. Chris von der Ahe (3)

48. Rube Waddell (19)

49. Steve Wilstein (2)

50. John Young (5)

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