Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day: July 16, 2017

The Baseball Reliquary will present the 2017 Induction Day ceremony for its nineteenth class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals on Sunday, July 16, 2017, beginning at 2:00 p.m., at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, California. Doors to the auditorium will open at 1:30 p.m. Admission is open to the public and free of charge. The inductees will be Charlie Brown, Bob Uecker, and Vin Scully. The keynote address will be delivered by Dave Mesrey. In addition, the Baseball Reliquary will honor the recipients of the 2017 Hilda Award, Cam Perron, and the 2017 Tony Salin Memorial Award, Dr. Richard Santillan.

For further information, contact the Baseball Reliquary by phone at (626) 791-7647 or by e-mail at terymar@earthlink.net. The 2017 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 afternoon’s festivities:

The program will commence with an Induction Day tradition: the ceremonial bell ringing in memory of the late Brooklyn Dodgers fan Hilda Chester; everyone who attends is encouraged to bring a bell to ring for this much-anticipated sonic cacophony. The National Anthem and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” will be performed by the SYMPHOMANIAX, the flagship musical quartet representing the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra.

Cam Perron (right) with former Negro League player Roosevelt Jackson, who turns 100 this December.

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 2017 recipient, CAM PERRON, began writing letters to veteran players of the Negro Leagues when he was in middle school. While his initial purpose was to obtain the players’ signatures, Perron soon became obsessed with the Negro Leagues, and the unsung heroes of those bygone leagues who were so unrecognized in the world of sports. Perron’s hobby had turned into a passion, and by his freshman year in high school, he began organizing annual Negro League reunions and reconnecting players who had been out of touch for over 50 years. Not only has he located over 100 previously undiscovered former Negro Leaguers, but he has been instrumental in obtaining pensions for many of the players through a program offered by Major League Baseball, a payout that was often life-changing. A 2016 graduate of Tulane University, Perron, now 22 years old, continues his important Negro Leagues research and regularly communicates with former players. He was recently spotlighted on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

Dr. Richard Santillan

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 2017 recipient, DR. RICHARD SANTILLAN, has taught Chicano Studies for the past 45 years in the California State University system. A founding member of the Latino Baseball History Project at California State University, San Bernardino, Dr. Santillan has, since 2011, 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 book on Houston and Southeast Texas, and its twelfth book on El Paso. Three more books will be released in 2018 on the San Gabriel Valley (Southern California), Kansas City, and Sacramento.  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 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. Santillan and his wife, Teresa, recently donated their Los Angeles Dodgers collection, one of the largest private Dodgers collections in the world, to the Baseball Reliquary; it is housed at the Institute for Baseball Studies at Whittier College.

Dave Mesrey

Following the award presentations, the 2017 keynote address will be delivered by DAVE MESREY, a Detroit, Michigan-based writer, historian, and preservationist. A founding member of the Navin Field Grounds Crew, the grassroots collective of baseball fans which worked to preserve and maintain the site of Detroit’s Tiger Stadium from 2010-2016, Mesrey and the NFGC are now hard at work with the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium to restore an old Negro Leagues ballpark near Detroit. Mesrey is also founder of the Bird Bash, Detroit’s annual tribute to the late, great Mark “The Bird” Fidrych (Shrine of the Eternals Class of 2002). A self-described Birdbrain, Mesrey has written extensively about the 1976 American League Rookie of the Year.

Charlie Brown

The keynote address will be followed by the formal induction of the 2017 class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals. Born in 1950, CHARLIE BROWN is the stocky, round-headed kid created by the late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. The embodiment of our aspirations and failures, Charlie suffered the ignominy of loss and disappointment with the grace and aplomb that only a cartoon character can muster. The setting for many Peanuts morality plays is the baseball field, a perfect arena for Charlie’s whimsical, thought-provoking, funny, and pathetic exploits. From his perch atop the pitching mound, Charlie imagines himself as the reincarnation of Christy Mathewson, preparing to zip a blazing fastball, puzzling knuckler, or nasty fadeaway past the opposing batter. In point of fact, however, Charlie has only one pitch, a slow straight ball, that is batted with such force back through the mound that the ensuing line drives routinely undress him. He fares even worse as manager: by one count the career record for the Peanuts team is 2-930, the two wins coming on the heels of forfeits. Charlie embraces and embodies awfulness. While the other kids are celebrating Mickey Mantle, Charlie extols the talents of one Joe Shlabotnik, a noodnik no-talent washout. It appears laughable, but there’s a real wisdom in this: there can be only one Mickey Mantle, but anyone can be Joe Shlabotnik. Yes, Charlie Brown may be a blockhead, but in his unshakeable belief in himself and his imagination, he will always be a winner. Charlie’s induction will be introduced and accepted by CRAIG SCHULZ, the youngest son of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz.

Bob Uecker

Born in 1935, BOB UECKER underwhelmed fans with six season’s-worth of uninspired play as a lowly backup catcher (career .200 batting average) for the Braves, Cardinals, and Phillies (1962-1967). Proving an exception to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s maxim about the absence of second acts in American lives, Uecker would discover unexpected celebrity and a brand-new career after retirement from the game. A natural, wry wit mixed with self-deprecating humor that mocked his baseball ineptitude enabled him to achieve pop culture stardom. Well-received guest spots on The Tonight Show led to appearances in TV ads for Miller Lite beer and other products, culminating in a recurring role in the sitcom Mr. Belvedere. Uecker’s unlikely and successful transformation continued to develop in baseball-themed comedies (like Major League) and a host of other entertainment vehicles. Uecker 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. Due to his broadcasting commitments with the Brewers, Bob Uecker will be unable to attend the ceremony. His induction will be introduced and accepted by JAY JOHNSTONE, former major league outfielder, author, and raconteur, who played for eight teams during a twenty-year big league career. Johnstone was one of the game’s craftiest pranksters and best storytellers, as he recounted in his three books: Temporary Insanity, Over the Edge, and Some of My Best Friends Are Crazy.

Vin Scully

Born in 1927, VIN SCULLY served as the urbane and lyrical voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 years. Considered by many the greatest sportscaster of all time, the always eloquent and gentlemanly Scully was admired far beyond the reach of local airwaves: he also broadcast a total of 28 different Fall Classics 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 the realm of the Homeric. Scully’s descriptions of events occurring on the diamond, entwined with vivid reveries, poetic anecdotes, and spontaneous riffs retrieved from his vast store of baseball memories, have enthralled generations of baseball fans. His 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 by President Obama at The White House that November. Due to a previous commitment, Vin Scully will be unable to attend the ceremony. His induction will be introduced by LISA NEHUS SAXON, a trailblazing sportswriter who was one of only three women in the U.S. who covered Major League Baseball full-time from 1983 to 1987. While working as a beat reporter and sports columnist for daily newspapers in Southern California for more than two decades, covering the Angels, Dodgers, Raiders, and major college football and basketball, Saxon steadfastly fought for equal access and equal pay, paving the way for women who followed her. As a special bonus, Los Angeles folk singer and music historian ROSS ALTMAN will perform a song he has written for the occasion, entitled “Vin Scully From the Bleachers.”

Donald R. Wright Auditorium

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, Game Changers, which is being presented from July 3-July 30 in the display cases in the North Entrance, Humanities Wing, and Centennial Room of the Pasadena Central Library.

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