The BASEBALL RELIQUARY Inc.
SHRINE OF THE ETERNALS
Sunday, July 28, 2002, a standing-room-only crowd of nearly 200 people
filled the Donald R. Wright Auditorium of the Pasadena Central Library,
Pasadena, California, for the 2002 Induction Day ceremony of the
Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals. The festivities began at
2:00 PM with the traditional bell ringing for the late Hilda Chester,
followed by greetings from the Baseball Reliquary’s Executive
Director, Terry Cannon, who would serve as the afternoon’s Master of
THE HILDA AWARD
annual Hilda Award, named in honor of Hilda
Chester, was created by the
Baseball Reliquary to highlight the importance of fandom in baseball
history. Cannon opined that fans have been loyal to professional baseball
despite being excluded from "input into rule changes, Hall of Fame
elections, divisional realignment, playoff structure, and that new tool of
manipulation wielded by major league owners known as contraction. And need
we look any further than this summer’s All-Star Game debacle, and the
ensuing fan reaction, to make a convincing argument that professional
baseball today sorely lacks the qualities of imagination, vision, and the
sense of fun that have made it our national pastime."
Hawkins remembered his closest call being Tony Gwynn’s 3000th hit in August of 1999: "Now only Dr. Fan would have nightmares for years about Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn getting their 3000th hits 3000 miles apart on the same night. And people said what are the odds? Very good as it turned out, only one day apart. So after accidentally witnessing Mark McGwire’s 500th home run while chasing Gwynn, Dr. Fan gets to Montreal a mere 11 minutes before the playing of the various national anthems. Knowing that Gwynn was sitting on 2999 and he comes up second in the top of the first inning, the problem was that the people attending the game with Dr. Fan were detained near the border by the language police of the People’s Republic of Quebec for the felony of speaking English in public. But the good news was that we got there in time."
briefly about some of his experiences in Southern California ballparks,
saving perhaps his best line for Dodger Stadium, when he remarked,
"After a Dodger game, I was observed engaging in suspicious behavior. I
stayed until the end of the ninth inning."
The afternoon’s second
award was created by the Baseball Reliquary to memorialize baseball
historian and researcher Tony Salin, who passed away in July of 2001, just a
year after he delivered one of the Keynote Addresses at the 2000 Induction
Day ceremony of the Shrine of the Eternals. Terry Cannon described Salin,
author of the book Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes: One Fan’s Search for the
Game’s Most Overlooked Players, as "a humorist, prankster par
excellence, publicist, activist, and baseball archivist." The Tony
Salin Memorial Award, Cannon noted, "will recognize individuals for
their contributions to preserving baseball history and for bringing
attention to the stories and legacies of the game’s ‘forgotten heroes’
who are largely unknown to the general public. Individuals from all fields
of baseball will be considered, including but not limited to authors,
editors, publishers, statisticians, researchers, historians, teachers,
curators, archivists, and librarians."
Cannon then invited Golenbock
to the podium, while unveiling the Tony Salin Memorial Award, an
antiquated baseball encased in Plexiglas with an engraved inscription.
Unaware that he was to receive the award, a completely surprised
Golenbock spoke briefly about his relationship with Tony Salin: "I
get a lot of calls from people who want to publish books, and I try to
help them all, with the caveat that I tell each one of them that it’s
impossible to get your book published because nobody wants to publish a
first-time writer. Tony was one of those who called, and what made him
so different was not just the importance of going around the country
interviewing old ballplayers, but he had a wonderful way of telling
their stories and he was a very interesting person himself. Tony was a
guy who drove a cab to the homes of these ballplayers to interview them.
It just seemed like a Johnny Carson or David Letterman moment. Here’s
Tony Salin, who drives his cab to visit ballplayers and he’s written
this book. So it seemed to me that Tony might have a real shot at
getting this book published because there was a hook that most of the
fellows who want to write books about baseball didn’t have."
Peter Golenbock remained on stage to deliver the 2002 Keynote Address, after a brief introduction by Terry Cannon. His speech covered a wide range of topical issues relating to major league baseball’s current state of affairs. Some of his strongest criticism was leveled in the direction of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, whom Golenbock referred to as the most malevolent force in baseball: "Born on the Fourth of July, a guy who wraps himself in the flag and who single-handedly threatens to destroy the competitive makeup of our beloved game. Understand something about George Steinbrenner. People say he’s softened. Uh-uh. He has always had the colonialistic mentality of a 19th century robber baron."
Golenbock briefly talked about how Steinbrenner built his shipping and
baseball empires, arguing persuasively that it is Steinbrenner, not
Commissioner Bud Selig, who is destroying the game’s competitive
balance: "He is the one who is making it impossible for the rest of
the league to compete. And what is so notorious about him, like the
Enron and WorldCom guys who used their possessions of power to make
their millions and who are thumbing their nose at America, Steinbrenner
is doing the exact same thing to the other owners of baseball and to the
fans here in America.
the first of the 2002 inductees, Terry Cannon observed, "Based on the
first 12 inductees to the Shrine of the Eternals, I think a good case can be
made that the voting membership of the Baseball Reliquary is an enlightened
body, and this year’s election of Joe Jackson also exemplifies its
compassion. And if I may speak for those members who voted for him, whether
or not they felt he was party to the fixing of the 1919 World Series, I
believe that they feel that Shoeless Joe Jackson has been punished long
enough. And now, some 50 years after his passing, the time has come to lift
the ban so that Shoeless Joe can take his place beside the other immortals
in the Baseball Hall of Fame. And today, the Baseball Reliquary is indeed
proud to have Shoeless Joe Jackson enter its Shrine of the Eternals."
Nola also stressed that,
despite press accounts saying that he was a bitter and depressed man
after his banishment from baseball, Jackson was "more successful
outside of baseball than he was in baseball." Jackson ran a number
of successful businesses in both Savannah, Georgia and Greenville, South
Carolina, including a dry cleaning business, a barbecue restaurant, and
a liquor store.
introductory comments about Mark Fidrych, Terry Cannon observed that
"in this summer of steroids, contraction, cryonics, and gloom-and-doom
predictions of a baseball apocalypse, to recall the innocence and exuberance
with which Mark Fidrych played the game and the way he galvanized the city
of Detroit and the baseball world in the bicentennial summer of 1976 gives
us reason to laugh and feel happy again."
"’Well, really, what
does Dr. Livengood [the Tigers’ team physician] have to say about your
arm?’ Harwell inquired.
The third and final inductee for 2002, Minnie Minoso, was introduced by
Tomas Benitez. No stranger to the Shrine of the Eternals (he delivered a
Keynote Address in 2000), Benitez is a student of baseball history and
has worked as an arts professional for over 20 years. Born and raised in
East Los Angeles, California, he is a member and past President of the
Los Angeles County Arts Commission; has worked closely with
community-based groups in East Los Angeles, including Plaza de la Raza
and the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts; and currently serves as
director of Self-Help Graphics and Art.
"In the ‘60s, the VW
Bug was the number one seller. And television got color: red, blue,
yellow, Diahann Carroll and Bill Cosby. The Beatles first came to the
United States. And Bob Gibson was making both black and white players
turn gray. And Mr. Minoso was playing baseball.
Minoso received a warm
ovation and proceeded to offer his heartfelt thanks to the audience in
attendance and to the Baseball Reliquary for electing him to the Shrine
of the Eternals. Minoso acknowledged the presence of his daughter,
son-in-law, and grandchild, who live in San Diego; and Jim Stocchero,
his long-time friend who traveled with him from Chicago.
Induction Day photographs courtesy of Larry Goren
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