Saturday, January 7, 2012


The Blue Bum tells it like it is: Stephen Seemayer's
paintings revamp the Dodgers' increasingly fragile legacy.
While oh so many of you are fixating on the scarifyin' prospect of Monday's Hall of Fame vote (Barry Larkin is looking good), you might want to turn your attention to an election in which any and all are allowed to participate: the Baseball Reliquary's Shrine of the Eternals, where you can buy your own vote for a small yearly fee of $25 (that's less than seven cents a day, campers).

It involves a shift in mentality that might not be possible for those who are over-invested in statistics or "official stories." Rather than expending emotion and intellect in Hall of Fame revisionism, there's an alternate path that involves an entirely new vision, a true re-visioning, in fact, of baseball history. The voters of the Baseball Reliquary get to engage in this process directly, and they've done a sensational job in producing a unique slate of Eternals. Their "outsider" stance welds together the most disparate strands of baseball's ongoing tapestry.

This year there are a dozen new candidates for the Shrine of the Eternals. Some of the better-known names include: Bert Campaneris, Jose Canseco, Charlie Finley, Hideo Nomo, Lefty O'Doul, and Joe Pepitone. (How would you like to have that sextet in a panel discussion?)

But where the Reliquary really shines is in its selection of the lesser-known figures in baseball history. These are the fleeting ones, who add the texture of individuality to the game--the characters who often are the purest embodiments of adversity, extremity and otherness: the qualities that abound in Reliquary inductees.

Bill Bergen
The half-dozen fleeting ones who are invited to take a bow in 2012:

--Gary Bell, an ordinary pitcher with an extraordinary wit, one of the three major characters in Jim Bouton's abidingly irreverent classic, Ball Four;

--Bill Bergen, whose lack of hitting prowess is the most extreme for any position player who ever amassed 2500 or more at-bats;

--Steve Bilko, legendary minor-league slugger whose long-ball exploits in the Pacific Coast League were so legendary that Hollywood appropriated his name for the classic Phil Silvers comedy, Sergeant Bilko;

--Charles "Victory" Faust, the type of "team mascot" that could never happen today, whose story would make for a quirky but compelling baseball biopic;

Toni Stone
--Annabelle Lee, aunt of Bill (Spaceman) Lee, whose left-handed pitching exploits in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League included a perfect game (Lee has said his aunt threw harder than he did);

--Toni Stone, the only woman to play in the Negro Leagues, signed by the Indianapolis Clowns in 1953 to play second base (thus replacing a future Hall of Famer: Hank Aaron).

These are not your garden-variety "Hall of Fame" candidates. They are literally the stuff that dreams are made of, people who lived out their dreams in the light of day. For thirteen years, with unerring insight, the voter population of the Baseball Reliquary has selected a troika of inductees that capture this quirky, undefinable resonance.

If the all-too-brief stories of these six unique, fleeting-but-eternal individuals capture even the briefest spark of interest in you, then you should join the Baseball Reliquary--the quintessential baseball "anti-institution" where your voice is always heard. Voting begins in April, so there's still time to join.

The fourteenth Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day will be held on Sunday, July 15th, in Pasadena, CA. As we've told you for almost as long as there has been an Induction Day, the ceremony is unlike any other you will ever attend. Don't miss it.