2017 Tony Salin Memorial Award Recipient: Dr. Richard Santillan

Tony Salin painting, “Mr. Baseball Brand” by artist Ben Sakoguchi, in the collection of Doug Salin.

The Board of Directors of the Baseball Reliquary is pleased to announce that Dr. Richard Santillan has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 Tony Salin Memorial Award. The award will be formally presented at the Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day on Sunday, July 16, 2017, beginning at 2:00 p.m., at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, Pasadena, California. The festivities will also include the presentation of the 2017 Hilda Award and the induction of the 2017 class of electees to the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals: Vin Scully, Bob Uecker, and Charlie Brown.

Established in 2002 to recognize individuals for their commitment to the preservation of baseball history, the Tony Salin Memorial Award is named in honor of the baseball historian, author, and Reliquarian who passed away in 2001. From the time he was eight years old, Tony was referred to as “Mr. Baseball” by family and friends, whom he regularly astounded with his exhaustive knowledge of facts and trivia related to old-time ballplayers. Over the years, this preoccupation blossomed into a passion for the study and research of unsung players and forgotten aspects of baseball history, which he felt were important to document and keep alive for future generations.

Dr. Richard Santillan (photo courtesy of Robert A. Whitehead/Cal State San Bernardino)

The 2017 Salin Award recipient, DR. RICHARD SANTILLAN was born in East Los Angeles right after World War II. His father took him and his brother to see the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League play at Wrigley Field. He attended his first Dodger game in 1958, the first year the Dodgers played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Dr. Santillan received his BA degree from Los Angeles State College, his MA from San Fernando Valley State College, and his Doctoral degree in 1978 in American Politics and U.S. Foreign Policy from the Claremont Graduate School. He has taught Chicano Studies for the past 45 years in the California State University system, the last 37 years as Professor Emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He currently teaches part-time at East Los Angeles College in both the Chicano Studies and Political Science Departments.

Dr. Richard Santillan (left) with retired professional baseball scout Mark Garcia.

Dr. Santillan was and continues to be very active in the Chicano Movement, starting with Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers boycott in 1965. He has written extensively since 1969 in books, journals, and newspapers, and has appeared on countless television and radio programs documenting and discussing the long and rich history of the Mexican American people in the United States. He has donated his immense Chicano history collections to both the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Indiana.

Dr. Santillan has served as the lead author for ten books on Mexican American baseball for Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of Baseball” series, with two more titles due to be published this summer and three more in progress.

Dr. Santillan was one of the founding members of the Latino Baseball History Project, based at California State University, San Bernardino. He serves on the planning committee of the LBHP and writes for the project’s newsletter; teaches a Mexican American baseball class each spring at Cal Poly Pomona; and organizes and speaks at Mexican American baseball events. Since 2011, he has served as the lead author for the Mexican American baseball book series in conjunction with the Arcadia Publishing company. This summer, the series will release its eleventh and twelfth books on Houston and Southeast Texas, and El Paso. There are currently three more books in progress, including Kansas City, Sacramento, and the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles. The most recent book published was on the remarkable history of baseball and softball in East Los Angeles. To date, nearly 2,500 vintage photos and stories have been published, the most comprehensive photo collection to be made available to the public in the history of baseball research on Mexican American communities in the United States. The earliest photos date to the 1870s. Moreover, the Latino Baseball History Project has collected over 4,000 photos covering nearly twenty states. The philosophy of the book series is to showcase Mexican American baseball and softball photos through the lens of race, class, gender, political and civil rights, the border, prejudice and discrimination, and how baseball and softball served as political tools to advance equality and social justice.

Dr. Richard Santillan (right) with East Los Angeles sports icon Al Padilla.

Dr. Santillan continues to be a huge Dodger fan. He and his family, three children (Anthony, Dianne, and John) and three grandchildren (Alec, Roman, and Rhiannon), have a long tradition of attending Dodgers’ Opening Day games. In 2017, Dr. Santillan attended his 41st consecutive Dodger opener.  His wife, Teresa, attended her 25th straight opening game. Dr. Santillan credits any success with the baseball project to his wife, who has provided unconditional support and who, too, has been a very active member of the project, including coauthoring a chapter on baseball in Catholic schools for the East Los Angeles book. Dr. and Mrs. Santillan have recently donated their Los Angeles Dodgers collection, one of the most comprehensive private Dodgers collections in the world, to the Institute for Baseball Studies at Whittier College.

Dr. Richard Santillan will attend the Shrine of the Eternals 2017 Induction Day in Pasadena, California to personally accept the Tony Salin Memorial Award.

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