The Board of Directors of the Baseball Reliquary is pleased to announce that Bob Busser has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 Tony Salin Memorial Award. The award will be formally presented at the Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day on Sunday, July 14, 2019 at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, Pasadena, California. The festivities will also include the presentation of the 2019 Hilda Award and the induction of the 2019 class of electees to the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals: J.R. Richard, Billy Beane, and Lisa Fernandez.
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, Salin 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.
The 2019 Salin Award recipient, BOB BUSSER is the first photographer to receive the award. He was born in Inglewood, California, about a half mile from where The Forum (home of the Lakers from 1967 until 1999) would be built. Busser was raised in Orange County (Fullerton), and began his ballpark quest as a curious eight-year-old at Dodger Stadium. It was the summer of 1967 when his father took him to his first baseball game, with the Dodgers playing the Mets. “I can remember it like it was yesterday,” Busser fondly recalls. “Entering the ballpark, I never saw anything so big and vast as the field at Dodger Stadium. I snapped two photos with my brownie camera, in black and white. I was hooked.
“I was a transistor radio kid of the ‘60s. I would fall asleep with the radio under my pillow listening to Vin Scully describe, as only he could, Connie Mack Stadium, Forbes Field, Crosley Field, and others. I had to see the baseball palaces.”
Busser’s first real road trip was in July 1976, when his father and mother took him to Boston for the Bicentennial. His mother was from Lowell, Massachusetts and it was her first trip home since 1948. His father wasn’t a baseball fan, but he would stop in any city that had a major or minor league stadium. “On that trip,” Busser explains, “this lifelong Red Sox fan got his first glimpse of Fenway Park. My parents and cousins went to see a parade in Boston with the Queen of England, while I got to go to Fenway Park for the first time. Needless to say, I got the better of the deal!”
Forty-three years later, Busser’s quest continues. One of the preeminent ballpark and arena historians, he has photographed over 900 venues in those 43 years, and has amassed an immense archive of over 75,000 images. Sometimes the venues are brand new, and other times they are falling apart. Many of Busser’s photos have appeared in books, magazines, and exhibitions, and he has been associated with the National Baseball Hall of Fame since 1995; several of his images are on display in the Hall’s “Sacred Grounds” exhibit. Busser’s online treasure trove of photographs can be viewed at https://ballparks.smugmug.com/. He also administers a very popular Facebook page, “Ballparks, Stadiums and Arenas of the past and present,” and regularly contributes to the Facebook page for the Institute for Baseball Studies.
In terms of his photographic style, Busser has said, “I shoot not just the usual behind-the-plate shots, but just about everything in a facility, including concourses, locker rooms, press boxes, and places the average fan cannot get to. Many people have written or have told me in person that they get to see these places through my vision. People have said that the images bring back many happy memories. It does not matter the venue, whether it’s Fenway Park in Boston or a dilapidated Potter County Memorial Stadium in Amarillo, Texas. Everyone has a memory of the places I travel to and photograph.”
Bob Busser met his future wife, the former Norine Winicki, on a chance meeting in December 1993. They bonded that night over baseball, wed in October 1995, and have been together ever since. They live in the Northern California city of Fairfield with their two dogs, Fenway and Crosley. Busser has said, “I would like to thank the Baseball Reliquary for presenting me with the Tony Salin Memorial Award. I am very honored and humbled.” He will attend the Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day in Pasadena, California on July 14 to personally accept the Tony Salin Memorial Award.