Was there a surge of support for Manny Mota to be recognized by the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals based on his rather quiet reassignment by the Dodgers’ organization as their long-time special hitting coach this season?
The Pasadena-based nonprofit dedicated to “fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history” announced Mota as its top vote-getter to be entered as the 15th class into the Shrine of Eternals on July 21.
Mota, one of the great pinch hitters of all time, topped the list by being named on 37 percent of the ballots. Former San Francisco legend and bar keep Lefty O’Doul was on 35 percent, and softball showman Eddie Feigner was on 33.3 percent.
Just missing election: Bo Jackson and Don Zimmer (both with 32.6 percent) and Dizzy Dean (31 percent).
Fifth eligible candidates were on the 2013 ballot, including Glenn Burke (29 percent), Steve Bilko (27 percent), Mike Marshall (18 percent) and Hideo Nomo (13 percent).
Mota, with the Dodgers from 1969-82, appeared in four World Series, retired with a .304 batting average and had the all-time record for pinch hits — 150 — since broken. He was the Dodgers’ hitting coach from 1980 to 2012 — 33 seasons. The 75-year-old serves as a minor league hitting instructor and is on the Dodgers’ Spanish-language TV broadcasts, in addition to running the Manny Mota International Foundation to provide resources for those in the Dominican Republic and U.S. He had been on the Shrine ballot for six years.
O’Doul, in his second year on the ballot, won a batting title with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1932, three years after he did the same thing for Philadelphia (with a .398 mark, 254 hits, 32 homers, 122 RBIs and 152 runs). He managed the PCL’s San Francisco Seals in ’35 when another Bay Area native, Joe DiMaggio, came up. He’s more famous today for having his own restaurant — some call it the first sports bar in the U.S. He died in 1969 at age 72.
Feigner, on the Shrine ballot for 13 years before his election, traveled the country with “The King and His Court” and is said to record 9,700 wins with 930 no hitters and 238 perfect games. He would pitch behind his back, through his legs, blindfolded and from second base at times. During a nationally televised exhibition at Dodger Stadium in 1967, he struck out Maury Wills, Harmon Killebrew, Brooks Robinson, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, and Roberto Clemente. All in a row. Feigner died in 2007.