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The BASEBALL RELIQUARY Inc.


SHRINE OF THE ETERNALS:
2006 INDUCTION DAY

Sunday, July 23, 2006 ~ 2:00 PM
 

Donald R. Wright Auditorium
Pasadena Central Library
285 E. Walnut St., Pasadena, CA
Free Admission / Information (626) 791-7647

        The Baseball Reliquary will sponsor the 2006 Induction Day ceremony for its eighth class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals on Sunday, July 23, 2006, beginning at 2:00 PM, at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, 285 East Walnut Street, Pasadena, California. The doors will open at 1:30 PM, and admission is open to the public and free of charge. The inductees will be Josh Gibson, Fernando Valenzuela, and Kenichi Zenimura. The keynote address will be delivered by Samuel O. Regalado, a professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus. In addition, the Baseball Reliquary will honor the recipients of the 2006 Hilda Award, Bill Murray, and the 2006 Tony Salin Memorial Award, Kerry Yo Nakagawa.
          The festivities will commence with an Induction Day tradition, the ceremonial bell ringing in honor of the late Brooklyn Dodgers fan Hilda Chester; everyone who attends is encouraged to bring a bell to ring for this occasion. The National Anthem will be performed on the harp by Ellie Choate.
          For further information, contact the Baseball Reliquary by phone at (626) 791-7647 or by e-mail at terymar@earthlink.net. The 2006 Induction Day is co-sponsored by the Pasadena Public Library and is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. 

 

2006 INDUCTEES

          The highest honor afforded an individual by the Baseball Reliquary is election to the Shrine of the Eternals. Three individuals are elected on an annual basis in voting conducted by the membership of the Reliquary. Similar in concept to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Shrine of the Eternals differs philosophically in that statistical accomplishment is not a criterion for election; the Shrine, rather, honors individuals who have impacted the baseball landscape in ways that do not necessarily have anything to do with numbers. The 2006 electees – Josh Gibson, Fernando Valenzuela, and Kenichi Zenimura – will join previous inductees Jim Abbott, Dick Allen, Moe Berg, Ila Borders, Jim Bouton, Roberto Clemente, Rod Dedeaux, Dock Ellis, Mark Fidrych, Curt Flood, William “Dummy” Hoy, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Marvin Miller, Minnie Minoso, Satchel Paige, Jimmy Piersall, Pam Postema, Jackie Robinson, Lester Rodney, and Bill Veeck, Jr.
          JOSH GIBSON (1911-1947) was often called “the black Babe Ruth,” but Ruth might just as easily have been termed “the white Josh Gibson.” During a 17-year career with the Negro League Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords, the right-handed hitting catcher was credited with slugging over 900 home runs (although many came against semi-pro and non-league teams). Along with Satchel Paige, Gibson was the biggest drawing card in the history of the Negro Leagues and was the standard against whom other hitters were measured. He was also an excellent defensive catcher with a rifle arm. The fact that every team he played for, including the Homestead Grays, who won nine consecutive Negro National League pennants beginning in 1937, enjoyed tremendous success on the field was yet another testament to his extraordinary talent. Unfortunately, much of the American sports world was deprived of the opportunity to witness the heroics of Josh Gibson, as he was felled by a brain hemorrhage in 1947, just three months before Jackie Robinson’s integration of major league baseball. Josh Gibson’s induction will be accepted by Sean Gibson, the ballplayer’s great-grandson, on behalf of the Gibson family. Sean Gibson actively promotes his great-grandfather’s legacy by serving as Executive Director of the Pittsburgh-based Josh Gibson Foundation, which provides youth with greater access to educational resources, scholarships, support services, and training.
          Phenoms come and phenoms go, but few evolve into legitimate superstars let alone national heroes. And fewer still burst onto the scene in a manner as dramatic and captivating as FERNANDO VALENZUELA. In 1981 the Los Angeles Dodgers introduced the world to the Mexican superstar they had always sought, a chubby young left-hander who, in the space of a few short weeks, launched an international craze – Fernandomania – and propelled the Dodgers to World Series victory. With his distinctive delivery (eyes rolled heavenward at the apex of his windup), superb control, and virtually untouchable screwball, Fernando (no last name needed, thank you) set the baseball world on its ear, reeling off eight wins in his first eight starts (five of them shutouts) on his way to winning the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards – the first player in major league baseball history to accomplish the feat. Fernando was a box-office bonanza, drawing thousands of jubilant Mexican-American fans to every game he pitched, not only in Los Angeles but in all the other National League cities. In Southern California, Fernandomania was an early indicator of both the Latino community’s demographic revolution and the cultural and political breakthroughs that would soon be too pronounced to ignore. Fernando became the foundation of the Dodgers’ rotation through the 1990 season, after which he became a journeyman pitcher before retiring at the end of the 1997 season with a 173-153 lifetime mark. He currently works as color analyst for the Dodgers’ Spanish-language radio broadcasts.
          Often called the “father of Japanese-American baseball,” KENICHI ZENIMURA (1900-1968) was a pioneering player, coach, manager, and organizer whose contributions and influence spanned the Pacific. Born in Hiroshima, Zenimura acquired a passion for the game in his youth and, after moving to Fresno, California in 1920, he founded the Fresno Athletic Club, a Japanese-American baseball team that lasted more than fifty years and attained national recognition. Despite being only five feet tall and weighing 100 pounds, Zenimura was an intense competitor as a shortstop and catcher, and he organized goodwill tours of Japanese-American teams to Japan in the 1920s and ‘30s. During World War II, the Zenimura family was sent to internment camps in Fresno and Gila River, Arizona, where under Kenichi’s guidance, baseball fields were constructed and teams and leagues were formed behind barbed wire. Huge crowds flocked to the games and baseball was credited with bonding wartime internees, giving them a sense of normalcy and community pride. The late actor Pat Morita, a former Gila River internee, said Zenimura left an indelible mark on that fraternal community in the desert by showing “that with effort and persistence, you can overcome the harshness of adversity.” Zenimura returned to Fresno after the war, where he continued playing (he caught his last game at age fifty-five) and coaching until his death in 1968. Kenichi Zenimura’s induction will be accepted by his son, Kenso “Howard” Zenimura, on behalf of the Zenimura family. Howard Zenimura played baseball at Fresno State University and, in the 1950s, he played professionally in Japan with the Hiroshima Carp. For over 25 years, Zenimura has coached and organized youth baseball teams in Fresno which annually compete in goodwill tours with Japan, Korea, China, Mexico, and Hawaii. 

 

KEYNOTE ADDRESS AND AWARDS

           The keynote address for the 2006 Induction Day will be presented by SAMUEL O. REGALADO, who holds a Ph.D. from Washington State University and is currently Professor of History at California State University, Stanislaus. He received a Smithsonian Institution Fellowship in 1994 to study the sports programs within the Japanese-American internment camps. Regalado’s research on Mexicans and Latinos in baseball has appeared in his book Viva Baseball!: Latin Major Leaguers and Their Special Hunger (University of Illinois Press, 1998) and in numerous articles in scholarly journals. He serves as an advisor to Mexican-American Baseball in Los Angeles: From the Barrios to the Big Leagues, a collaborative project between the Baseball Reliquary and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library at California State University, Los Angeles. Regalado has also done research on Japanese-American baseball during the Nisei period and served as a consultant to the Nisei Baseball Research Project’s traveling exhibit, Diamonds in the Rough. His uncle, Rudy Regalado, played in the major leagues with the Cleveland Indians from 1954-1956.
          The ceremony will also feature the presentation of the 2006 Hilda Award, named in memory of the beloved Brooklyn Dodgers fan Hilda Chester and given annually to a fan for his/her extraordinary passion for and dedication to baseball. This year’s recipient is BILL MURRAY, a Chicago Cubs fan extraordinaire and part owner of the St. Paul Saints (a franchise in the American Association, an independent professional baseball league), for whom he also serves as team psychologist. When not at the ballpark, Murray is one of the busiest and most visible actors in the world. After drawing national attention in the 1970s as one of the “Not Ready for Prime Time” players on the TV series Saturday Night Live, he moved on to the big screen, where he has appeared in more than forty movies.
          Another highlight of the ceremony will be the presentation of the 2006 Tony Salin Memorial Award, named for the late baseball author and researcher, which annually honors one individual for his/her dedication to preserving baseball history. This year’s recipient is KERRY YO NAKAGAWA, founder and director of the Nisei Baseball Research Project (NBRP), a Fresno, California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of Japanese Americans in baseball. He also curated Diamonds in the Rough, an exhibition on the history of Japanese-American baseball which has traveled throughout the United States and Japan, including stops at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown in 1998 and the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles in 2000. Nakagawa served as a consultant to Baseball as America, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s touring exhibition, and authored the book Through a Diamond (Rudi Publishing, San Francisco, 2001), which chronicles one hundred years of Japanese-American baseball history. A member of the Screen Actors Guild since 1980, Nakagawa has co-starred in TV series including Hill Street Blues, Matlock, Marcus Welby, and General Hospital.


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