Candidates for 2020 Election of the Shrine of the Eternals

The Baseball Reliquary, Inc. has announced its list of fifty eligible candidates for the 2020 election of the Shrine of the Eternals, the membership organization’s equivalent to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This year marks the 22nd 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 63 individuals previously elected to the Shrine of the Eternals are, in alphabetical order: Jim Abbott, Dick Allen, Roger Angell, Emmett Ashford, Billy Beane, 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, Lisa Fernandez, 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, J.R. Richard, 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, eleven individuals appear on the Shrine of the Eternals ballot for the first time. The newcomers, in alphabetical order, are:

Felipe Alou (b. 1935) – Three-time All-Star and manager, eldest and best-known of the three Alou brothers, and among the first Dominican Republic natives to achieve stardom in MLB. The hard-hitting outfielder and first baseman debuted with the San Francisco Giants in 1958 and matured with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, joining such sluggers as Henry Aaron, Eddie Mathews, and Joe Torre in a prodigiously gifted lineup. In 1994, as manager of the Montreal Expos, a team that featured his son, Moises, he led a very good team to near glory before the season and post-season was wiped out by a work stoppage, which proved to be the franchise’s swan song. On September 15, 1963, as members of the Giants, he and his younger brothers Matty and Jesus became baseball’s first and only troika of siblings to play the outfield as teammates in the same game.

Dusty Baker (b. 1949) – Child of the 1960s who participated first-hand as a player and manager in a number of baseball’s defining moments over the past fifty years. As a rookie outfielder with the Atlanta Braves in 1968, he was tutored in the game and in life by the great Henry Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record in 1974 as Dusty waited on deck. Baker’s greatest success as a player came with the Dodgers between 1976 and 1983, with whom he won a World Series ring in 1981, but he is best remembered in counterculture lore as the recipient of the first “high five” from Dodgers teammate Glenn Burke in October 1977. His extensive managerial résumé includes successful campaigns with the Giants, Cubs, Reds and Nationals, and is marked by stunning reversals of fortune, including a World Series meltdown in 2002 by the Giants and the infamous Wrigley Field “Bartman game” played by his Cubs in the 2003 postseason. In 2015 he published Kiss the Sky, a bestselling account of his “life-changing experience” at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.

Jesse Cole (b. 1985) – “You can’t say ‘Savannah Bananas’ without laughing in your head a bit,” admits Jesse Cole, the marketing iconoclast and top banana of the Coastal Plain League’s franchise in southeast Georgia. Taking a page from the Bill Veeck handbook, entrepreneur Cole – who leads the cheering at all home games dressed in a yellow tuxedo – decided baseball was too boring, so he re-imagined and re-invigorated the game by creating a “fans first” atmosphere of crazy fun at the old ballpark, in this case historic Grayson Stadium, long a local landmark. Beginning in 2016 the Bananas, a team stocked with young, college-aged players who participate in the ballpark shenanigans, have become the hottest ticket for summer fun in Savannah. Cole, a former college baseball star, has gained local and national celebrity for his appealing efforts at a time when many local and minor league franchises are threatened with extinction.

Jack Dunn (1872-1928) – The man who unwittingly provided George Herman Ruth with a nickname after reluctantly selling the young pitcher – “Dunn’s $10,000 Babe” – to the Red Sox in 1914. Jack Dunn survived a devastating childhood injury to star as a pitcher and utility infielder with the Brooklyn Bridegrooms and other early MLB teams (1897-1904), after which he purchased the Baltimore Orioles’ International League franchise in 1909. In short time he developed a powerhouse minor league team stocked with such jaw-dropping pitching talent as Lefty Grove, George Earnshaw, Ernie Shore, and, of course, the Babe. Dunn is recognized today as a pillar of early 20th-century baseball – a brilliant manager, scout, and franchise owner – yet he’s never been recognized by the Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game.

Jim Joyce (b. 1955) – Although the late Bill Klem would never admit fallibility, baseball umpires do blow calls. Most are trivial but a few have had disastrous consequences for a team or a player, resulting in the loss of a World Series or, in Jim Joyce’s case, the loss of a pitcher’s perfect game. On June 2, 2010, Armando Galarraga, a young pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, pitched the game of his life. One out away from immortality, Galarraga faced Cleveland batter Jason Donald, who hit an infield grounder. The pitcher ran to cover first base, took the throw, and stepped on the bag well ahead of the runner. Three outs and a perfect game! Whoa, not so fast! Veteran umpire Joyce (1987-2016) had unbelievably called the runner “safe” and the perfect game was lost. Immediately, Joyce knew he blew the call and became inconsolable afterwards. The pitcher, however, responded with incredible equanimity; he delivered the Tigers lineup card to the plate on the following day and presented it to Joyce, who was the home plate umpire for that game. Joyce was overwhelmed by emotion and deeply apologetic, a baseball history first. In 2012, Joyce saved a dying woman on the field by administering CPR. News headlines read, “Jim Joyce, umpire who blew perfect game call, saves woman.”

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) – Think you can’t be cool and still dig baseball? When his novel, On the Road, was published in 1957, setting the tone for the counterculture to come, Jack Kerouac became the first writer of the Beat generation to achieve commercial and critical success. This restless, seeking spirit of Eisenhower’s sedate America was also a jock with a football background and a passion for baseball. Present day fans will recognize him as an early fantasy baseball league enthusiast; he crafted leagues, teams, and players to suit his fancy and then played games using cards or dice or other determinants. Based on his writings and those of his friends, this activity was a thoughtful, creative exercise and not simply a time-killing guilty pleasure. Contemporary baseball nerds can take heart knowing that “the King of the Beats” was once just like them.

John Kruk (b. 1961) – Burly, beer-pounding, good-old-boy slugger and ringleader of the Filthy Phils, improbable NL champions of 1993, and among the most-beloved players of his era. The good-natured Charleston, West Virginia native was a three-time All-Star, best remembered for happily capitulating against southpaw menace Randy Johnson in the 1993 game. Kruk’s ten-year playing career (1986-1995) as an outfielder-first baseman with the Padres, Phillies, and White Sox is notable for its serendipitous alignment of statistics: exactly 1200 games, 100 home runs, and .300 lifetime average. A favorite of fans and players alike, Kruk became a baseball analyst for ESPN in retirement, and most recently provided color commentary for local Philadelphia Phillies broadcasts.

Charlie Lau (1933-1984) – A career backup catcher and left-handed pinch-hitter who later became the batting coach/guru for a generation of players including George Brett, Amos Otis, Harold Baines, and Lou Piniella, who called him “the greatest batting instructor of them all.” Like many great coaches and managers, Lau was a marginal major-league player who spent much of his eleven-year career (1956-1967) on the bench observing and learning the finer points of the game. Lau developed an approach to hitting and a set of methods that he called “Absolutes,” which he taught to young Kansas City Royals players from 1971 to 1978. The expansion franchise became an American League juggernaut during his tenure, and the success of his methods became the talk of baseball. Hired by the Chicago White Sox in 1982, Lau’s methods helped that club reach the 1983 ALCS. Sadly, he died of cancer the following year at age 50, but not before converting another Chicago coach, Walt Hriniak, to his methods.

Ron LeFlore (b. 1948) – Former heroin addict and convicted robber who discovered baseball while incarcerated at Jackson State Penitentiary, Detroit native LeFlore would star for the hometown Tigers and other teams beginning in the mid-1970s. A fleet centerfielder with a .288 lifetime average, LeFlore and teammate Mark “The Bird” Fidrych re-energized a moribund Tigers club and fan base in 1976. LeFlore led the AL in runs (126) and stolen bases (68) in 1978, and led the NL in steals (97) during his lone season with the Montreal Expos in 1980. His transformation from criminal to sports star was the subject of a 1978 CBS film, One in a Million, that featured Roots star LeVar Burton as LeFlore. His legal problems continued after retirement, and in 2011 health complications resulted in the amputation of his right leg.

Max Patkin (1920-1999) – The Clown Prince of Baseball, whose antics amused generations of baseball fans. A former minor league player, Patkin developed his trademark routines in the years following World War II as he barnstormed around the country. Over a 51-year period, he appeared thousands of times in ballparks big and tiny, dressed in an oversized uniform with “?” stitched on back, hat askew, contorting his body and face into hundreds of poses and expressions. While many found his comedy corny, a throwback to big-gesture vaudeville performance practices, Max nonetheless endeared himself to fans and players everywhere. His ubiquity at minor league ballparks and his stature as an entertainer led to an appearance in Ron Shelton’s Bull Durham, in which he played himself, this time before millions.

Bugs Raymond (1882-1912) – Recognized today as one of the Deadball Era’s most incorrigible and unrepentant alcoholics, Arthur “Bugs” Raymond came by his nickname honestly. His unpredictable, self-destructive before masked a great talent for pitching, and drove many seasoned baseball men crazy, or to the “bughouse” in early 20th-century parlance.  Even the great John McGraw, who thought he could reclaim any alcoholic, gave up on Raymond and the demons that pursued him. In 1908 Bugs starred for the lowly St. Louis Cardinals, posting exceptional pitching statistics despite a 15-25 W-L record. McGraw traded for him at the end of that year and Raymond responded with a solid 1909 campaign for the Giants, going 18-12 with a 2.47 ERA over 270 innings. He went downhill precipitously over parts of the next two seasons and by the end of the 1911 season, his brief baseball career was over at the age of 29. After sustaining injuries in several brawls, he died the following year of a cerebral hemorrhage caused by a fractured skull, the result of a beating, in his hometown of Chicago.

The complete list of all fifty candidates for the 2020 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, 2020. To be eligible to vote, all persons must have their minimum $25.00 annual membership dues paid as of March 31, 2020.

The three new inductees will be announced in May, with the Induction Day ceremony scheduled for July 19, 2020. In addition to the presentation of plaques to the 2020 inductees, this year’s ceremony will honor the recipients of the 2020 Hilda Award (named in memory of Hilda Chester and acknowledging a baseball fan’s exceptional devotion to the game) and the 2020 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. Felipe Alou (New!)
  2. Dusty Baker (New!)
  3. Ralph Branca (4)
  4. Chet Brewer (21)
  5. Octavius V. Catto (8)
  6. Rocky Colavito (8)
  7. Jesse Cole (New!)
  8. Tony Conigliaro (2)
  9. Charles M. Conlon (19)
  10. Bob Costas (7)
  11. Jack Dunn (New!)
  12. Leo Durocher (6)
  13. Luke Easter (6)
  14. Charlie Finley (10)
  15. Rube Foster (22)
  16. Julio Franco (2)
  17. Ernie Harwell (17)
  18. Mamie Johnson (7)
  19. Cleon Jones (2)
  20. Jim Joyce (New!)
  21. Jack Kerouac (New!)
  22. John Kruk (New!)
  23. Charlie Lau (New!)
  24. Ron LeFlore (New!)
  25. Melissa Ludtke (2)
  26. Effa Manley (22)
  27. Dr. Mike Marshall (15)
  28. Tug McGraw (17)
  29. Denny McLain (7)
  30. Fred Merkle (14)
  31. Masanori Murakami (3)
  32. Hideo Nomo (9)
  33. Dave Parker (7)
  34. Max Patkin (New!)
  35. Joe Pepitone (10)
  36. Vic Power (12)
  37. Charley Pride (6)
  38. Bugs Raymond (New!)
  39. Pete Reiser (8)
  40. Bing Russell (5)
  41. Annie Savoy (10)
  42. Justine Siegal (2)
  43. Janet Marie Smith (3)
  44. John Thorn (4)
  45. Jim Thorpe (3)
  46. Mike Veeck (4)
  47. Chris von der Ahe (6)
  48. Rube Waddell (22)
  49. Bill White (3)
  50. John Young (8)
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