The Baseball Reliquary Inc. has announced its list of 50 eligible candidates for the 2014 election of the Shrine of the Eternals, the membership organization’s equivalent to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This year marks the 16th 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 45 individuals previously elected to the Shrine of the Eternals are, in alphabetical order: Jim Abbott, Dick Allen, Roger Angell, Emmett Ashford, Moe Berg, Yogi Berra, Ila Borders, Jim Bouton, Jim Brosnan, Bill Buckner, Roberto Clemente, Steve Dalkowski, Rod Dedeaux, Jim Eisenreich, Dock Ellis, Eddie Feigner, Mark Fidrych, Curt Flood, Ted Giannoulas, Josh Gibson, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, Pete Gray, William “Dummy” Hoy, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Bill James, Dr. Frank Jobe, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Roger Maris, Marvin Miller, Minnie Minoso, Manny Mota, Lefty O’Doul, Buck O’Neil, Satchel Paige, Jimmy Piersall, Pam Postema, Jackie Robinson, Lester Rodney, Pete Rose, Casey Stengel, Luis Tiant, Fernando Valenzuela, Bill Veeck, Jr., Maury Wills, and Kenichi Zenimura.
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 50 candidates, on which the membership votes annually. The three candidates receiving the highest percentage of votes gain automatic election.
Among the 50 eligible candidates for 2014, 13 individuals appear on the Shrine of the Eternals ballot for the first time. The newcomers, in alphabetical order, are:
Laurie Brady – Astrologer to the stars and self-styled “tyqueen” (feminine for “tycoon”) temporally based in Chicago, who was hired as a PR ploy by Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley in the mid-1970s. On the eve of the 1976 season she predicted the A’s would “go all the way.” Unfortunately, she didn’t specify a direction: the team failed to win the pennant and quickly fell into chaos, becoming the laughingstock of the American League for years to follow.
George Brunet (1935-1991) – Well-traveled southpaw who pitched for nine MLB teams during a 15-year career, compiling a sub-.500 record with mostly bad teams. Brunet gained a measure of pop culture fame when Jim Bouton revealed in Ball Four that the lefty refused to wear undershorts. (“Hell, the only time you need them is when you get into a car wreck. Besides, this way I don’t have to worry about losing them.”) Thus unencumbered and unfazed by mediocrity, “Commando” Brunet became at the age of 38 a standout starter in the Mexican League. Beginning in 1973, he pitched during the regular and winter seasons in Mexico, throwing an estimated 400 innings a year. He retired at last in 1989 at the age of 54, having won 132 games in Mexico, including a record 55 shutouts. Nicknamed “El Viejo” (The Old Man), Brunet was elected to the Mexican League Hall of Fame in 1999.
Bob Costas (b. 1952) – Boyish, near-ubiquitous sportscaster, interviewer, and baseball savant who has been a fixture on NBC Sports television since the early 1980s. As the prime-time host of nine Olympic Games and a knowledgeable commentator on most sports, Costas is considered by many a worthy successor to Jim McKay, the late ABC broadcast legend. Baseball is his primary passion, however, one that he continues to indulge as play-by-play announcer and host of an interview show, Studio 42 with Bob Costas, for MLB Network.
Margaret Donahue (1892-1978) – Hired by Chicago Cubs president William Veeck, Sr. as a stenographer in 1919, “Midge” Donahue ultimately reached the level of secretary and vice president, thereupon becoming the first female executive in baseball to be promoted through the ranks. At the time of her retirement from the Cubs front office in 1959, she was recognized as one of the most authoritative and crafty executives in the game, particularly on the subject of player trades and waiver deals. In 1929 she inaugurated the marketing and selling of season tickets, a practice soon copied by every other club, and also revived and popularized Ladies Day at the ballpark. Years later, maverick club owner Bill Veeck, Jr. called Donahue “as astute a baseball operator as ever came down the pike.”
Harvey Dorfman (1935-2011) – A sports psychologist and mental skills coach who worked as a counselor and consultant for Major League Baseball teams and players. Dorfman’s lessons in mental performance enhancement earned for him World Series rings with the 1989 Oakland A’s and 1997 Florida Marlins, and contributed to the success of such players as Roy Halladay and Jamie Moyer. His books on the mental game of baseball have become required reading in baseball circles.
Charles Fairbanks (1925-2007) – An engineer with Bell Telephone who in 1964 invented the “beep” baseball, a ball that emits audible tones, making it possible for blind and visually-impaired people to play baseball by hearing the ball and running to bases that “buzz” directionality. The National Beep Baseball Association (NBBA) formed in 1975 and began sponsoring an annual World Series the following year.
Bill Faul (1940-2002) – A gullible twirler with legitimate big-league talent whose career in professional baseball (1962‒1966; 1970) was curtailed by real and perceived eccentricities. Faul’s behavior transcended the usual categories of flake used by baseball hardliners to describe any player different from the norm. Faul hypnotized himself before games and talked to his arm. He swallowed live toads, claiming they put extra “hop” on his pitches. He would rip the heads off parakeets with his bare teeth. He claimed his secret to success (if one can call a 12-16 career W-L record successful) was his hypnosis therapy, his background as a karate instructor (his hands were registered as lethal weapons), and his elevated spiritual consciousness (courtesy of the Universal Life Church). Even the woeful Cubs of the mid-1960s couldn’t find a place for a pitcher endowed with such unique qualifications. Chuck Dressen, his manager with the Tigers, stated, “Either he’s the dumbest guy in the world or the smartest one you’ve ever met.”
Mamie “Peanut” Johnson (b. 1935) – One of three women, and the first female pitcher, to play baseball in the Negro Leagues. Spurned by the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) because of her race, she signed with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League in 1953. She pitched for three seasons with the Clowns (1953‒1955), compiling a stellar career won/loss record of 33‒8, one of the best pitching percentages in Negro League history. Her nickname “Peanut” refers to her tiny but tough 5’3” height. Her story is told in the book A Strong Right Arm, published in 2003.
Denny McLain (b. 1944) – Few other athletes have lived the high life and groveled in the low life like Denny McLain. This baseball bad boy stunned the nation in 1968 when he became the first – and only – pitcher since Dizzy Dean to win 30 or more games in a season, leading the Detroit Tigers to World Series triumph. His multiple extracurricular activities – playing the organ, flying airplanes, and consorting with shady characters – kept him in the public eye even after his baseball career self-destructed. Brash, outspoken, and always controversial, McLain’s off-field activities led to multiple arrests for drug trafficking, embezzlement, and violation of the RICO statutes. In spite of these transgressions, McLain remains an unforgettable figure to baseball fans in Detroit and elsewhere.
Dave Parker (b. 1951) – The first professional athlete to earn an average of one million dollars per year, “The Cobra” is considered by many to have been the best ballplayer active during the years 1975 through 1980 not in the Hall of Fame. Wielding a lethal, lightning-quick bat from the left side and a devastatingly accurate throwing arm from right field, Parker was a central figure of the “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates 1979 World Championship team. After falling out of favor in Pittsburgh, he starred for the Reds and the A’s, winning another pennant with the 1989 “Bash Brothers” Oakland squad. He was a key figure in baseball’s early-1980s investigation into cocaine and amphetamine use in the Major Leagues. In 2012, Parker was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
John “Bonesetter” Reese (1855-1931) – Welsh-born coalminer and mill worker who learned the trade of “bonesetting,” a Welsh term for the treatment of muscle and tendon strains, prior to his arrival in the U.S. in 1887. Settling in Youngstown, Ohio, Reese gained a reputation as a miracle worker among local mill workers, even though he lacked medical credentials. His ability to manipulate and soothe aching muscles brought him to the attention of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1903; news of his successful treatment of star shortstop Honus Wagner during the first World Series later that season quickly spread. Such stars as Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, and Rogers Hornsby are among just a few of the ballplayers who crowed their satisfaction with Reese’s treatments. By the 1920s, Reese had become a national phenomenon, providing treatment to people from all walks of life.
Rachel Robinson (b. 1922) – Widow of baseball and civil rights pioneer Jackie Robinson, Rachel Robinson was the only person in America privy to the most intense private doubts and struggles of Number 42 as he broke the color barrier in MLB in 1947 while a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. A native of Los Angeles, she met her future husband while both attended UCLA. She pursued a career in nursing, eventually earning a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing from New York University. After her husband’s death in 1972, Ms. Robinson founded the Jackie Robinson Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is to provide college scholarships and leadership training to promising and talented young people. At age 91 she continues to use her ability and Jackie’s legacy to further civil rights and educational causes.
Hy Turkin (1915-1955) – A sportswriter for the New York Daily News, he collaborated with baseball researcher S.C. Thompson to produce the first legitimate baseball encyclopedia. Published in 1951, The Official Encyclopedia of Baseball (it was endorsed by Commissioner Albert “Happy” Chandler) included a listing of every man who played Major League Baseball, the years they had played, the teams they played for, and rudimentary statistical lines. Turkin & Thompson’s Encyclopedia appeared in nine revised editions after Turkin’s early death and remained an essential reference volume until superseded by the MacMillan Baseball Encyclopedia (aka Big Mac) in 1969.
A complete list of all fifty candidates for the 2014 election of the Shrine of the Eternals follows:
1. Eliot Asinof (11) 26. Annabelle Lee (3)
2. Sy Berger (4) 27. Effa Manley (16)
3. Steve Bilko (3) 28. Dr. Mike Marshall (9)
4. Laurie Brady (New!) 29. Tug McGraw (11)
5. Chet Brewer (15) 30. Denny McLain (New!)
6. Charlie Brown (7) 31. Fred Merkle (8)
7. George Brunet (New!) 32. David N. Mullany (2)
8. Glenn Burke (7) 33. Hideo Nomo (3)
9. Bert Campaneris (3) 34. Dave Parker (New!)
10. Jose Canseco (3) 35. Joe Pepitone (4)
11. Octavius V. Catto (2) 36. Phil Pote (12)
12. Rocky Colavito (2) 37. Vic Power (6)
13. Charles M. Conlon (13) 38. Dan Quisenberry (8)
14. Bob Costas (New!) 39. John “Bonesetter” Reese (New!)
15. Dizzy Dean (14) 40. Pete Reiser (2)
16. Margaret Donahue (New!) 41. J.R. Richard (15)
17. Harvey Dorfman (New!) 42. Rachel Robinson (New!)
18. Charles Fairbanks (New!) 43. Annie Savoy (4)
19. Bill Faul (New!) 44. Rusty Staub (9)
20. Lisa Fernandez (14) 45. Hy Turkin (New!)
21. Charlie Finley (4) 46. Fay Vincent (13)
22. Rube Foster (16) 47. Rube Waddell (16)
23. Ernie Harwell (11) 48. John Montgomery Ward (8)
24. Bo Jackson (2) 49. John Young (2)
25. Mamie Johnson (New!) 50. Don Zimmer (10)
The three new inductees will be announced in May, with the Induction Day ceremony scheduled for July 19, 2014 in Pasadena, Calif. In addition to the presentation of plaques to the 2014 inductees, this year’s ceremony will honor the recipients of the 2014 Hilda Award (named in memory of Hilda Chester and acknowledging a baseball fan’s exceptional devotion to the game) and the 2014 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 email@example.com.