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The BASEBALL RELIQUARY Inc.


2008 SHRINE OF THE ETERNALS
KEYNOTE ADDRESS

Presented by Albert Kilchesty
Baseball Reliquary Historian & Archivist

 

        This year’s keynote address is composed of two parts. The first is a student paper in response to the exhibition In Their Own League, a wide sampling of art and artifacts from The Baseball Reliquary collection presented at Saddleback College in October, 2003. The second is an original, brief rumination on the nature of faith, reality and the business of belief written specifically for this year’s event by Mr. Kilchesty. Other than the redaction of the student’s name and the name of her instructor, all content in part one is guaranteed 100% accurate, with no changes in grammar, syntax and spelling. Except for the addition of one bracketed editorial note, added solely for clarity, the paper reprinted below is an exact replica of the original.                    –AK

 

PART I

English 1A

7 October 2003

Baseball is an Art

 

            Baseball used to seem boring and extremely dull.  Would you think a field trip to a college art gallery, featuring baseball, could change my view on the sport?  Well it did.  Normally I would complain profusely about going, but this collection of artwork opened up my eyes to see the importance and entertainment value of baseball in America.

            Baseball never seemed important, but little did I know the extreme measures people took to preserve articles of baseball.  In the gallery there was an exact replica made of Mordecae Brown’s finger His real finger came off during a game, but the replica looked realistic with gashes and blood all over it.  I did not know rubber could look so disgusting.

            Speaking of disgusting, there was also a real slice of skin from Abner Double Play’s thigh. The skin was crusted and looked similar to the dried pig ears you would find in a pet store. I find it fascinating that someone was obsessed enough with baseball to pick up the skin and refrigerate it for years.

            Wouldn’t it be awesome to have your face implanted on a tortilla for thousands of people to see?  This is just what happened to Walter O’Malley, the Dodger’s owner.  He was admired by enough people to be honored with the chance to have his face on a food item.  I find it very comical, and it makes me crack a smile.

            Keeping anyone’s jock strap is unthinkable, but some one sure wanted to keep Edward Carl Gaedel’s.  The strap was in the gallery posed as artwork!  I used to think artwork entailed paint and a canvas, but I have come to realize art is something that moves you.  Baseball is an art form to some, but I never thought of it as such until seeing this gallery.

            Not only did baseball lovers go to extremes, the players did also.  Over half of the artwork in the gallery had to do with Babe Ruth, also known as the Great Bambino.  He was a legend in his day, and although there are better players now, he is still a legend. One sculpture in the gallery called “The curse of the Bambino,” [Greg Jezewski, mixed media] was one of the ugliest, goriest sights I have ever seen.  There were body parts with blood oozing out, forks and knives all over, and there was a crazy looking guy in a Mets jersey with swirling eyes.  Some one must have really despised Babe Ruth to make such a scary piece of art.

            Have you ever had something so important to you that you would do anything or give up anything just to be a part of it?  That is what these extraordinary people did. They gave up their lives and in some cases parts of their bodies just for the sport of baseball. It wasn’t just a past time for these athletes, it was their lives and their passion.  This trip has really opened my eyes to the deeper meaning of baseball.  It’s not just some boring game you see on television, it is a way of life for the people involved. If you don’t really understand this, then I recommend you take a trip to the art gallery at Saddleback College.

 

Shrine of the Eternals “Keynote” Address, Part II

 

        In a history of the early Catholic Church, the writer Malachi Martin cites an off-the-cuff factoid, disarming as much for the casual manner of its presentation as it is for the macabre—nay, icky—effect it has upon the reader.  According to Martin, there exists in Italy a decaying chapel situated on the outskirts of a forlorn mountain village that has, for centuries, faithfully served the local population.  Unremarkable in any aspect other than its extreme decrepitude, the chapel is renowned locally as the permanent home to one of the most unusual reliquaries in Christendom. To eschew confusion, I should mention that a reliquary is not merely a repository for a sacred artifact, it can also be a sanctified or blessed object itself, one that frequently contains a holier or more valuable tidbit inside it. A popular type of this kind of reliquary is a cross, often gem-encrusted and of excellent gleaming craftsmanship, that has, built into its center, a circular glass or other type of compartment in which is displayed for the edification of the faithful, an object of unsurpassed spiritual vitality and historical import, say a piece of the true cross or the fingernail clippings of a long-forgotten martyr.
        Housed in this humble chapel is, according to Signor Martin, the ne plus ultra of reliquaries, the one we’ve all been waiting for, the one we all knew that would be discovered, somehow, some day, some way. This reliquary, quite modest in design, perhaps so as not to draw undue attention to the marvel tucked away inside, contains nothing less than the foreskin from that “certain part of the male anatomy” formerly belonging to one Jesus of Nazareth. Many of you may now be asking yourselves, “What, if anything, does a 2,000-year-old foreskin look like after twenty-one centuries of exposure to the elements and the hot germy contaminants from the breath of innumerable giggling school children?”  Admittedly, I was curious to learn this also. Purely in the interests of capitalism and the inexorable march of market forces, for I’m sure that many of you now, like me, may be speculating about the auction value of this extraordinary bit of memorabilia. Potential profits from a piece of the prophet could be astronomical; I don’t believe anyone would fault a person for wanting to explore further this unique avenue of financial opportunity. Faith is great, faith is good, faith doesn’t discriminate against the color of money.    
        Already, however, I am beginning to pick up on a sense of uneasiness among some in the hall here today. The Baseball Reliquary has, of late, been beset by growing numbers of the literal-minded. These are the type of people who would have us ask instead re: the flesh of his flesh, “Who could possibly have the foresight to save that foreskin? Further, who would care for it, water it, feed it, educate it, all with the foreknowledge that it would one day be placed in a reliquary where the devout could offer their orisons, ask it for forgiveness, draw virility and wisdom from its shriveled beauty?”        
        In fact, I received an e-mail a few weeks ago from a puzzled young man who asked me virtually the same question, differing only in that his confusion had to do with one of our most prized artifacts, the soil sample from the sacred Elysian Fields hard by the Hudson in Hoboken. “How,” he asked, “did the original owner of the artifact know that this soil would be considered sacred by future generations of Americans? Something is weird about this. I don’t like it; it smells funny.” 
         I can’t do anything about the smell (that’s probably just Hoboken, anyway); without weirdness we’d be nothing but a country of cops; and I consider the fact that this fellow doesn’t “like” our artifact to be a huge point in our favor.  Life trumps all fictions, acts according to its own laws, behaves in ever more sublime, unpredictable and inexplicable ways.  I’m more convinced of this now than I was ten years ago when we held the first Shrine of the Eternals event. And I fondly hope that we can continue to explore together the highways and byways of the sacred and the profane for many more years to follow.

 

Martin, Malachi. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, NY, 1981.


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