By David Davis
For those keeping score at home, it's been a banner year for Terry Cannon's Baseball Reliquary. In February, Cannon and his merry diamond pranksters debuted Ben Sakoguchi's astonishing series "The Unauthorized History of Baseball in 100-Odd Paintings," at the Da Vinci Gallery on the L.A. City College campus. In March, the Reliquary and Cal State L.A. rolled out the groundbreaking exhibit "Mexican-American Baseball in Los Angeles: From the Barrios to the Big Leagues," thereby introducing the world to the Carmelita Chorizos team.
Now comes the eighth annual "Shrine of the Eternals" induction ceremony, which kicks off Sunday afternoon at the Pasadena Central Library. Don Malcolm, of Big Bad Baseball fame, has called the Shrine the "Alternative Hall of Fame" because it eschews Cooperstown's slickness and, instead, honors the rogues, reprobates, and revolutionaries who've given the national pastime its pulse. Past honorees include Dick Allen, Bill Veeck, Curt Flood, Lester Rodney, Ila Borders, Roberto Clemente, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and Moe Berg.
This year, the Reliquary will induct a typically eclectic trio: Josh Gibson, the Negro League home-run king who passed away just before Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers; Fernando Valenzuela, the Dodgers' screwball phenom (and current Spanish-language radio broadcaster) whose success has come to symbolize the growing clout of L.A.'s Mexican-American community; and Kenichi Zenimura, the diminutive catcher from Fresno who managed to build a baseball field at the Gila River, Ariz., internment camp he and his family were held in during World War II.
Equal parts performance art and "Inside Baseball" geek-fest, the ceremony is free and open to the public. Several of Sakoguchi's paintings are displayed throughout the library, as are other artwork and Reliquary ephemera. Most important, I understand that the Pasadena Library's air conditioning is swell.
David Davis will be contributing occasionally to LA Observed. He is the author of Play by Play: Los Angeles Sports Photography 1889-1989 (Angel City Press). He is a contributing writer at Los Angeles Magazine and a contributing editor for the Amateur Athletic Foundation's "SportLetter."
Photo montage: BaseballReliquary.org