The 2009 Shrine of the Eternals ballot: Bucky F-kn Dent, a fake minor leaguer, the first black sportscaster, and a ballpark

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It seems just like a couple of months ago when the July 2008 Class of the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals had their ceremony honoring Bill Buckner, Buck O’Neal and Emmett Ashford (go to this link). That brings the induction list to 30 strong.

The 2009 ballot was sent out this weekend with its 50 candidates eligible for induction. This will be the 11th annual election for the organization that is “dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history,” according to their mission statement. The beauty of this election, versus the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., is that it’s not a closed group of sportswriters or committees, but open to public membership of the Baseball Reliquary.

The three highest percentage vote-getters make the Hall each year.

Highlights of the names on this year’s ballot:


== Eight individuals and one ballpark appear on the Shrine of the Eternals ballot for the first time. The newcomers are:

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=Bucky Dent: The New York Yankees shortstop who “popped the gonfalon bubble of Red Sox Nation” with his 1978 playoff home run at Fenway Park.

=Jude Roy Hofheinz: Masterminded of building the Houston Astrodome and unintentionally adding the words Astroturf, turf toe, and turf bounce to the English language.

=Smead Jolley: A DH before his time (1902-1991) when he excelled in the minor leagues as a tough hitter but lasted only briefly in the big leagues during the early 1930s because of his horrible fielding.

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=Jocko Maxwell: The first African-American sportscaster who called games for the Negro League’s Newark Eagles in the 1930s and ’40s. He was the most familiar baseball voice in African-American homes throughout North Jersey; he passed away last July at the age of 100, without entry into the Hall of Fame.

=Oriole Park at Camden Yards: Opened in 1992, it ushered in a new age of thinking about the role of baseball stadia in the urban landscape.

=Rich Pohle: In the 1970s, the then-36-year-old faked his identity and played in the low minor leagues as 21-year-old Australian prospect named Rocky Perone, using facial creams, shaving three times a day, and wearing a wig to make himself look younger. After the ruse was discovered, he stuck around pro ball as a scout and tutor to many up-and-coming players at his popular baseball school in Southern California (go to this link).

=Vic Power: The Puerto Rican first baseman who many Golden Gloves and All-Star roster spots was an important mentor to a generation of younger Latin players, including Roberto Clemente.

=Mose “Moe” Solomon: An outfielder/first baseman nicknamed “The Rabbi of Swat” after belting 49 dingers in the Southwestern League in 1923. He was purchased by the N.Y. Giants, who had been looking for a gate attraction to draw Jewish fans and to counter the popularity of Babe Ruth with the Yankees. Unfortunately, he couldn’t field a lick and was released after appearing in only two games. He died in 1966 at age 66.

=Chuck Stevens: A baseball lifer who spent 23 years in professional baseball, but less than three in the major leagues (with the lowly St. Louis Browns in the 1940s). After his retirement he served for many years as secretary/treasurer – and still serves on the Advisory Council – for the Association of Professional Ball Players of America (APBPA), a benevolent organization founded in 1924 to provide financial assistance to down-on-their-luck former ballplayers.

A 10th candidate, John Montgomery Ward, returns to the ballot after an absence of several years. (He was on the 2000 and 2001 ballots). He was one of the most visible and respected players of the 19th century, His trained legal experience helped him start the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players, the first serious attempt to organize a sports labor union, and the breakaway Players’ League of 1890, a noble but failed experiment in employee-owned sports franchising.

The rest of the candidates in alphabetical order (with the number of years they have been on the ballot):

= Hank Aguirre (5)
= Eliot Asinof (5)
= Billy Bean (6)
= Chet Brewer (10)
= Charlie Brown (2)
= Helen Callghan (6)
= Charles M. Conlon (8)

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= Steve Dalkowski (11)
= Dizzy Dean (9)
= Ed Delahanty (6)
= Jim Eisenreich (2)
= Eddie Feigner (9)
= Lisa Fernandez (9)
= Susan Fornoff (2)
= Rube Foster (11)
= Ted Giannoulas (7)
= Jim “Mudcat” Grant (5)
= Pete Gray

= Ernie Harwell (6)
= Dr. Frank Jobe (7)
= Charles “Pop” Kelchner (2)
= Mike “King” Kelly (2)
= Andrew Lampert (2)
= Effa Manley (11)
= Roger Maris (5)
= Dr. Mike Marshall (4)
= Tug McGraw (6)
= “Nuf Ced” McGreevey (3)
= Fred Merkle (3)

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= Manny Mota (2)
= Phil Pote (7)
= Dan Quisenberry (3)
= J.R. Richard (10)
= Rusty Staub (4)
= Casey Stengel (11)
= Luis Tiant (7)
= Fay Vincent (8)
= Rube Waddell (11)
= John Montgomery Ward (3)
= Wally Yonamine (2)
= Don Zimmer (5)

More information:
==The official Baseball Reliquary site (www.baseballreliquary.org)
==Executive director Terry Cannon: tarymar@earthlink.net or 626.791.7647

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  • jonnyo

    Excellent article about last year’s Shrine of The Eternals event (and the candidates), which was incredible. year after year, TBR’s exhibits and events are stellar and the good, gooey center of all that’s right with baseball.