Candidates for 2019 Election of the Shrine of the Eternals

The Baseball Reliquary, Inc. has announced its list of fifty eligible candidates for the 2019 election of the Shrine of the Eternals, the membership organization’s equivalent to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This year marks the twenty-first 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 sixty 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, Charlie Brown, Bill Buckner, Glenn Burke, Roberto Clemente, Steve Dalkowski, Dizzy Dean, Rod Dedeaux, Jim Eisenreich, Dock Ellis, Nancy Faust, 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, Tommy John, 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, Vin Scully, Rusty Staub, Casey Stengel, Luis Tiant, Bob Uecker, 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, eight individuals appear on the Shrine of the Eternals ballot for the first time, and two (Ralph Branca and Joe Schultz Jr.) return after a long absence. The newcomers and newly returned, in alphabetical order, are:

Billy Beane (b. 1962) – Maverick general manager of the small-market Oakland A’s who, in 2002, successfully put into practice for the first time ideas formulated by statistical analysts Bill James, Pete Palmer, et al. Pilloried in the press and ridiculed by the baseball establishment, the former Major League washout hired talent released by other organizations and single-mindedly molded it into a championship-caliber club, to the chagrin of far wealthier competitors and a host of detractors. His paradigm-altering experiment is documented in Michael Lewis’s 2003 book, Moneyball, and the film that followed. Every MLB team now has an analytics department to evaluate players and project their future performance.

Ralph Branca (1926-2016) – Brooklyn Dodgers hurler victimized by New York Giants slugger Bobby Thomson’s home run – “The Shot Heard ’Round the World” – in the third and deciding 1951 National League playoff game at the Polo Grounds. Prior to that moment the then-25-year-old had been a three-time All-Star for the Dodgers, a 21-game winner in 1947, and destined for continued stardom. Instead, labelled a goat for yielding the winning hit, “Hawk” Branca would never recover from that one ill-fated episode. Although in later years he would appear frequently in public with his nemesis, continuing their timeless pas de deux for fans, Branca would carry the burden of his failure for the rest of his long life.

Tony Conigliaro (1945-1990) – The tragic subject of the lone nightmare episode in the 1967 “Impossible Dream” Boston Red Sox AL pennant campaign, Tony C suffered a near-fatal beaning by Jack Hamilton of the Angels at Fenway Park in mid-August of that season. The handsome young star and teenage heartthrob from nearby Revere, MA, who was on top of the world that summer, instantly dropped as if shot, the hideous injury to his left eye immediately swelling like a black balloon. After sitting out the entirety of the next season, he returned in 1969 (AL Comeback Player of the Year) and posted stellar numbers in 1970, but his career faded rapidly afterward. Plagued by health issues, including a 1982 heart attack resulting in irreversible brain damage, he died in his family’s care at 45 years of age.

Julio Franco (b. 1958) – As a 23-year-old rookie with the Phillies in 1982, no one could have imagined that Julio Franco would one day re-write baseball history’s longevity record for a position player.  By the time he retired at the age of 48 in 2007, the Dominican Republic native, who attended high school in San Pedro de Macoris (aka “The Cradle of Shortstops”), had played for eight teams over a 23-year career, finishing with a .298 batting average and 2,586 hits, one AL batting title (.341 in 1991, Texas), and multiple, thrilling postseason appearances. Franco’s career compares favorably to Hall of Fame position players Barry Larkin, Alan Trammell, Enos Slaughter, and Roberto Alomar, and to such other greats as Minnie Minoso, Ken Griffey Sr., Lou Whitaker, and Jimmy Dykes.

Cleon Jones (b. 1942) — Hitting star of the “Amazin’ Mets,” the Cinderella team that charmed the Baltimore Orioles into defeat during the 1969 World Series.  Signed by the Mets in 1962, Cleon made his Major League debut the following year and became the franchise’s first legitimate middle-of-the-lineup batter, a gap hitter who averaged 25 doubles and 12 home runs over a 13-year career (all played with the Mets except for 12 games with the White Sox in 1976, his final year). His .340 average in 1969 paced the team, leading to his only All-Star selection, and only championship ring. In addition to catching the final out of the Series, he is remembered for being hit by the infamous “shoe polish” pitch in Game Five, which marked the beginning of a championship-clinching comeback effort. Recognized as one of the most important hitters in Mets history, Jones retired to Alabama, his home state, where he has worked for years as a community activist in Mobile.

Melissa Ludtke (b. 1951) – Award-winning, influential journalist who successfully sued Major League Baseball for violation of her 14th Amendment rights, thereby ensuring that no future female reporter would be denied clubhouse access on the basis of gender. While on assignment for Sports Illustrated to cover the 1977 World Series (the “Mr. October” games), Ludtke was refused entry to the Yankees locker room, an act that interfered with the ability to pursue her career. The subsequent federal lawsuit, Melissa Ludtke and Time, Inc., Plaintiffs, v. Bowie Kuhn, Commissioner of Baseball et al. (1978), found in favor of the plaintiff(s), stating that her fundamental rights were indeed violated based on her sex. The number of women entering sports media careers continues to grow as the result of Ludtke’s landmark lawsuit.

Boog Powell (b. 1941) – Jovial red-headed giant who played first base for the Baltimore Orioles dynasty that began in the mid-1960s, known for majestic home runs and regal girth. A Little League World Series participant at age 12, Boog (from “little bugger”) signed with the O’s out of high school in Key West, FL, beginning his climb up the ladder in Class D ball. In 1964 he gave the team a taste of what to expect in the future, bashing 39 home runs and topping the AL with a .606 slugging percentage. Six years later Powell would cop the 1970 AL MVP Award, leading the team to its second World Series Championship. The four-time All-Star would conclude his 17-year career in 1977 having amassed 339 home runs, currently good for the 100th spot on the career HR list, and would finish among the top hitters in Orioles’ franchise history. He was a fixture in several popular Miller Lite Beer commercials after retirement. When Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened in 1992, he established Boog’s Corner, a popular barbecue stand, where he can still be found during home games, having a good ol’ time with fans.

Dave Raymond (b. 1956) – Former intern for the Philadelphia Phillies who entered baseball lore as the original human alter ego of arguably the most popular team mascot in sports history – The Phillie Phanatic. Hoping to attract more families, the Phils implemented the mascot idea at the start of the 1978 season, pressing the resident office gofer/wiseass, Dave Raymond, into service. Nothing in life had prepared the 22-year-old for his singular role as the Phanatic – a large, furry, green bipedal flightless bird with an extendable tongue from the Galapagos Islands (reputedly) – a hyperactive, often reckless and irreverent, but always entertaining, presence at the ballpark. Kids loved him, adults loved him, oft-ridiculed umpires loved him, everybody loved him, except for Tommy Lasorda, who famously went ballistic when the Phanatic playfully pummeled an effigy of the pudgy Dodgers skipper. At the conclusion of the 1993 World Series, Raymond decided to move forward. He parlayed his success as the Phanatic into Raymond Entertainment, a firm that specializes in character branding and mascot training. In 2005 he conceived the Mascot Hall of Fame, now located in Whiting, Indiana.

Joe Schultz Jr. (1918-1996) – Second-generation baseball lifer whose colorful expressions and hilarious motivational speeches were immortalized in Jim Bouton’s candid Ball Four (1970), a diary of the 1969 Seattle Pilots’ one and only year of existence. A seldom-used backup catcher and left-handed pinch-hitter, “Dode” Schultz spent most of his playing career with the lowly St. Louis Browns (1943-1948) before embarking on a long career as coach and manager, primarily in the minor leagues. As a coach for the Bob Gibson-Curt Flood St. Louis Cardinals, he came to the attention of the expansion Pilots, who hired him as their first, and only, manager. Well-liked by his players, Schultz peppered the clubhouse with expletives (mostly variations on fuck-shit or shit-fuck), and exhorted his charges to “pound some Budweiser” when the going got tough. His depiction in Bouton’s book didn’t much help Schultz’s career – he would manage again just once, as interim skipper of the 1973 Tigers – but it did rocket him to countercultural stardom. He posted a 78‒112-1 record during his all-too-brief tenure as skipper.

Justine Siegal (b. 1975) – Possibly the most important woman ever in professional baseball, and the instigator of more firsts than seem humanly possible, Siegal is a professional baseball coach, sports psychologist/educator, and tireless gender equity advocate. Enamored with the game since childhood, the Cleveland-born Siegal was denied participation in boys’ baseball as a 13-year-old third baseman and pitcher, vowing to demolish forever the idea of competitive baseball as an activity for men only. A decade later Siegal founded the non-profit Baseball For All organization, created to provide opportunities in the game for women, and remains its executive director. In 2002 she founded the Sparks, the first all-girl team to compete in a national boys’ tournament, and seven years later became the first female coach of a professional men’s team, the Brockton Rox of the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball. In yet another first, she was hired by the Oakland A’s as an Arizona Instructional League coach in 2015, the first female coach to be hired by a MLB franchise. She was the mental skills coach for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, and is currently the Director of Sports Partnerships at the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University.

A complete list of all fifty candidates for the 2019 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, 2019. To be eligible to vote, all persons must have their minimum $25.00 annual membership dues paid as of March 31, 2019.

The three new inductees will be announced in May, with the Induction Day ceremony scheduled for July 2019. In addition to the presentation of plaques to the 2019 inductees, this year’s ceremony will honor the recipients of the 2019 Hilda Award (named in memory of Hilda Chester and acknowledging a baseball fan’s exceptional devotion to the game) and the 2019 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

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

1. Billy Beane (New!)

2. Kurt Bevacqua (2)

3. Ralph Branca (3)

4. Chet Brewer (20)

5. Bert Campaneris (8)

6. Octavius V. Catto (7)

7. Rocky Colavito (7)

8. Tony Conigliaro (New!)

9. Charles M. Conlon (18)

10. Bob Costas (6)

11. Leo Durocher (5)

12. Luke Easter (5)

13. Lisa Fernandez (19)

14. Charlie Finley (9)

15. Rube Foster (21)

16. Julio Franco (New!)

17. Ernie Harwell (16)

18. Mamie Johnson (6)

19. Cleon Jones (New!)

20. Ted Kluszewski (4)

21. Melissa Ludtke (New!)

22. Effa Manley (21)

23. Dr. Mike Marshall (14)

24. Tug McGraw (16)

25. Denny McLain (6)

26. Fred Merkle (13)

27. Masanori Murakami (2)

28. Hideo Nomo (8)

29. Dave Parker (6)

30. Joe Pepitone (9)

31. Shorty Perez (3)

32. Phil Pote (17)

33. Boog Powell (New!)

34. Vic Power (11)

35. Charley Pride (5)

36. Dave Raymond (New!)

37. Pete Reiser (7)

38. J.R. Richard (20)

39. Bing Russell (4)

40. Annie Savoy (9)

41. Joe Schultz Jr. (2)

42. Justine Siegal (New!)

43. Janet Marie Smith (2)

44. John Thorn (3)

45. Jim Thorpe (2)

46. Mike Veeck (3)

47. Chris von der Ahe (5)

48. Rube Waddell (21)

49. Bill White (2)

50. John Young (7)

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