SHRINE OF THE ETERNALS: 2004 INDUCTION DAY
Sunday, July 18, 2004 ~ 2:00 PM
Donald R. Wright Auditorium, Pasadena Central Library
285 East Walnut Street, Pasadena, California
Free Admission / Information (626) 791-7647
The Baseball Reliquary will sponsor the 2004 Induction Day ceremony for its sixth class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals on Sunday, July 18, 2004, 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 Dick Allen, Roberto Clemente, and William “Dummy” Hoy. The keynote address will be delivered by Lester Rodney, founding sports editor and columnist for the Daily Worker from 1936 to 1958. In addition, the Baseball Reliquary will honor the recipients of the 2004 Hilda Award, Jennie Reiff, and the 2004 Tony Salin Memorial Award, Bill Weiss.
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 erhu (a bowed instrument referred to as the “Chinese violin”) by musician and teacher Ji Shih.
For further information, contact the Baseball Reliquary by phone at (626) 791-7647 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The 2004 Induction Day is co-sponsored by the Pasadena Public Library and supported in part by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.
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 in April by the international 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 2004 electees — Dick Allen, Roberto Clemente, and William “Dummy Hoy — will join previous inductees Jim Abbott, Moe Berg, Ila Borders, Jim Bouton, Dock Ellis, Mark Fidrych, Curt Flood, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Marvin Miller, Minnie Minoso, Satchel Paige, Jimmy Piersall, Pam Postema, and Bill Veeck, Jr.
Despite enduring racism and prejudice throughout much of his professional baseball career, Dick Allen became one of the most feared sluggers and dominant players of his era. Free-spirited and controversial, Allen was one of the first outspoken African-American superstars in the major leagues, constantly at war with the baseball establishment during his 15-year career as an infielder-outfielder (1963-1977, mostly with the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox, but including stints with the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Oakland Athletics). Allen garnered both Rookie of the Year (1964, Philadelphia) and Most Valuable Player (1972, Chicago) awards. In that remarkable 1972 campaign with the White Sox, Allen hit .308 and led the American League in home runs (37), RBI (113), walks (99), on-base percentage (.422), and slugging percentage (.603). Dick Allen will attend the ceremony to personally accept his induction. He will be joined by his wife, Willa, and, pending their availability, his two sons, Richard Jr. and Eron. Allen will be introduced by his close friend, Victor Reichman, who has assisted many former ballplayers with personal appearances and charity work and has been actively involved in seeking pensions for older players.
One of the first Latin-American superstars in major league baseball, Roberto Clemente (1934-1972) was a humanitarian and a folk hero in his native Puerto Rico, where his memory is worshipped today. A daring and exciting player, Clemente starred for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955-1972, hitting over .300 thirteen times and leading the National League in batting four times. While collecting 3,000 career hits, he was also the recipient of twelve Gold Gloves as the finest right fielder of his era. All of these accomplishments came in spite of, and were perhaps fueled by, the racism and prejudice which he endured throughout his career. Clemente led a life of service to others and died much the same way as he had lived — killed in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972 while carrying relief supplies for Nicaraguan earthquake victims. Typical of his selflessness and altruism, Clemente not only organized the mercy mission, but when he had heard that the distribution of the charitable goods had run afoul in Nicaragua, he insisted on traveling with the supplies himself to ensure their safe and proper distribution. Roberto Clemente’s induction will be accepted by a representative of the Clemente family.
William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy (1862-1961), the first Deaf major league ballplayer, starred for several big league clubs for 14 seasons from 1888-1902, his longest affiliation being five years with the Cincinnati Reds (1894-1897, 1902). Diminutive even by 19th century standards (Hoy was 5’4” and weighed 148 pounds), he was a superb defensive center fielder and brilliant base-stealer. The first outfielder in the majors to throw out three runners at the plate in a single game, Hoy compiled 2,044 career hits with a .287 batting average and 594 stolen bases (including a National League-leading 82 SBs in his rookie year with Washington in 1888). Hoy, whose deafness resulted from an attack of meningitis when he was three, taught sign language to many of his teammates and they would often sign to him during games; thus, Hoy has often been considered a progenitor of the signaling system used today by managers, coaches, base-runners, and hitters. Unable to hear the umpire when he was at the plate, Hoy would be kept posted of the call by his third base coach, who would lift his right hand for strikes and his left hand for balls; though never authenticated, this system of communication may have had some influence on the future use of hand signals by umpires in calling balls and strikes. Although Hoy passed away in 1961 at the age of 99, just two months after throwing out a ceremonial first pitch at the Reds-Yankees’ World Series, he has continued to be an outstanding role model and inspiration for generations in the Deaf community. Hoy’s induction as the first 19th century player elected to the Shrine of the Eternals since voting began in 1999 will be accepted by his grandson, Dr. Carson Skaggs of Grass Valley, California, and his wife Miriam. Hoy will be introduced by Steve Sandy of Columbus, Ohio, who has been actively researching the life of this 19th century legend since 1989. A graduate of Gallaudet College (now University) in 1983, Sandy is prominently involved with the USA Deaf Sports Federation Committee for Dummy Hoy, which was formed in 1991 and has been lobbying to get him elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
KEYNOTE ADDRESS AND AWARDS
The keynote address for the 2004 Induction Day will be presented by Lester Rodney, who grew up in Brooklyn as an avid Dodgers fan and who was hired as the founding sports editor and columnist of the Daily Worker, the house organ of the American Communist Party, in 1936. Rodney immediately used his new position with the paper to launch an attack on the continued hypocrisy of the color-line in baseball. There are many that believe Rodney and the Daily Worker were responsible for initiating the campaign to integrate baseball that culminated with Branch Rickey’s signing of Jackie Robinson. Unfortunately, due to the virulent anti-Communist posturing of the period, Rodney’s efforts in this area were woefully neglected until recent years when he was “rediscovered” and was the subject of a biography by Irwin Silber, Press Box Red (2003, Temple University Press). Now 93 years of age, Rodney, currently a resident of Northern California, returns to the Southland where he worked as the religion editor of the Long Beach Press Telegram for many years after he left the Daily Worker and the Communist Party in 1958.
The ceremony will also feature the presentation of the 2004 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 26-year-old Jennie Reiff, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, who relocated to Southern California ten years ago. An Anaheim Angels fan and season ticket holder, Reiff developed a fascination with late 19th century ballplayers while majoring in American History at Pitzer College, and now uses every opportunity to enlighten the general public to the biographical details of these long-forgotten athletes, including her personal favorite, Big Ed Delahanty, a contemporary of William “Dummy” Hoy.
Another highlight of the ceremony will be the presentation of the 2004 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 legendary statistician Bill Weiss of San Mateo, California, who for four decades prepared for various minor leagues, then for major league organizations, sketchbooks which contained biographical information and career records for all players in the league or organization. They eventually reached a total of 200 books, providing a wealth of biographical and statistical data which has been of inestimable value to researchers and historians. Weiss has also served as the official historian of the Pacific Coast League, edited a weekly newsletter for the California League for thirty-plus years, and maintained a close affinity with baseball scouts, whom Weiss has called “the unsung heroes of the game.”