You know all about the Hall of Fame, but do you know about the other Hall of Fame? The one for people too awesome to be considered for the Cooperstown Hall of Fame?
It’s called the Shrine of the Eternals. And if there were any justice in the world, it would be the true Hall of Fame.
The Shrine of the Eternals is maintained by The Baseball Reliquary, an organization dedicated to preserving that huge part of baseball history that is just too cool and/or controversial for Cooperstown.
If you want to understand the purpose behind the Shrine of the Eternals, just look at the first three people they inducted back in 1999: Dock Ellis, Curt Flood and Bill Veeck, Jr. Two of baseball’s most rebellious, radical figures and a dude most remembered for pitching while tripping on acid.
This is the Hall of Fame for cool people, and it’s filled with incredible characters from the past and present. Moe Berg is in here, the catcher who became a spy during World War 2. Bill Lee the “Spaceman” is in here. Bill James, the world’s greatest baseball geek is in here.
Pete Gray the one-armed outfielder is in here. So is Steve Dalkowski, aka the Real Nuke LaLoosh.
This is more than just baseball alternative history, it’s baseball history period. The time has come for the Baseball Reliquary to choose three more inductees into the Shrine of the Eternals. They have announced their fifty-person ballot for 2014. I present the nominees with brief biographical notes.
1. Eliot Asinof
Author of “Eight Men Out” and other fiction and non-fiction works about the game of baseball.
2. Sy Berger
Topps employee credited with designing the basic baseball card lay-out still in use today.
3. Steve Bilko
First baseman known for his home run hitting exploits in the Pacific Coast League. Also credited as the name inspiration for Phil Silvers’ Sgt. Bilko.
4. Laurie Brady
Charlie Finley’s astrologer.
5. Chet Brewer
Negro League pitcher once featured in the same rotation as Hall of Famers Satchel Paige and Bullet Rogan.
6. Charlie Brown
Peanuts character renowned for his ineptitude both as a manager and a pitcher.
7. George Brunet
One-time major league pitcher and massive party animal who went on to have a Hall of Fame career in Mexico. Featured in Jim Bouton’s book “Ball Four.”
8. Glenn Burke
Believed to be the only homosexual MLB player ever to come out of the closet to his teammates during his playing career.
9. Bert Campaneris
Famous ballplayer, mainly with the Oakland A’s. Once played every position including pitcher during the same nine-inning game.
10. Jose Canseco
Baseball player, confessed steroid user, Twitter gadfly, possible alien abductee.
11. Octavius V. Catto
Early civil rights activist and 19th Century Philadelphia baseball/cricket hero.
12. Rocky Colavito
Hit 374 home runs in the major leagues. Featured prominently in the famous Home Run Derby TV show.
13. Charles M.Conlon
Took some of the most famous baseball photographs in history.
14. Bob Costas
Overcame severe dwarfism to have a successful career as a sports announcer and self-righteous scold.
15. Dizzy Dean
Famous pitcher who went on to a career as a folksy baseball announcer.
16. Margaret Donahue
Acknowledged as the first female front office executive in major league history.
17. Harvey Dorfman
Sports psychologist who worked with Jamie Moyer and Roy Halladay among others.
18. Charles Fairbanks
Inventor of the Beep Baseball, a technological innovation allowing the visually impaired to play the sport.
19. Bill Faul
Unaccomplished pitcher remembered for a single flukey statistical “achievement”: Despite pitching only 95 innings all year, he was somehow on the mound for all three triple plays turned by the Cubs in 1965.
20. Lisa Fernandez
Softball pitcher who holds the record for most strikeouts in an Olympic game (25).
21. Charlie Finley
Oakland A’s owner renowned for his eccentricity.
22. Rube Foster
Pioneering Negro League player, manager and executive.
23. Ernie Harwell
Was the voice of the Detroit Tigers for over 40 years.
24. Bo Jackson
Super-talented two-sport sensation who became an All-Star outfielder with the Kansas City Royals.
25. Mamie “Peanut” Johnson
One of three women to play in the Negro Leagues.
26. Annabelle Lee
Pitched a perfect game as a member of the Minneapolis Millerettes of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
27. Effa Manley
Negro League executive who became the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
28. Dr. Mike Marshall
One-time major league relief pitcher now renowned for teaching a controversial alternative pitching method believed by some to reduce the risk of arm injury.
29. Tug McGraw
Relief pitcher, folk hero. Father of Tim McGraw.
30. Denny McLain
The majors’ last 30-game winner.
31. Fred Merkle
Man at the center of the infamous baseball play now known widely as “Merkle’s Boner.”
32. David N. Mullany
The inventor of Wiffle Ball.
33. Hideo Nomo
Japanese pitcher who became a sensation with the Dodgers in the 1990s, ushering in a new era of Japanese baseball stars making the jump to the major leagues.
34. Dave Parker
Left-handed slugger with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland A’s and others. Famed for swinging a sledgehammer in the on-deck circle.
35. Joe Pepitone
New York Yankee slugger as famed for his wild personal life as his on-field exploits.
36. Phil Pote
The very image of the crusty old school baseball scout.
37. Vic Power
The first Puerto Rican to play in the American League.
38. Dan Quisenberry
Famed submarine-ball reliever, mainly with the Kansas City Royals.
39. John “Bonesetter” Reese
Early 20th Century baseball trainer renowned for his ability to heal injured players. Worked with Cy Young, Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson among others.
40. Pete Reiser
Perhaps one of the most talented players of all-time, his career was ruined by injury.
41. J.R. Richard
Legendary ’70s fireballing Astros starter whose career was cut short by a life-threatening blood clot.
42. Rachel Robinson
The wife of Jackie Robinson.
43. Annie Savoy
Fictional baseball groupie from the movie “Bull Durham.”
44. Rusty Staub
Red-headed star player with the Montreal Expos.
45. Hy Turkin
Sportswriter remembered for co-editing the first baseball encyclopedia.
46. Fay Vincent
Baseball commissioner from 1989-1992.
47. Rube Waddell
Brilliant left-handed pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics who is widely renowned as possibly the most insane human being ever to play major league baseball.
48. John Montgomery Ward
19th Century pitcher/shortstop who was instrumental in the creation of the first baseball union.
49. John Young
One-time player and scout who founded the youth program Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities.
50. Don Zimmer
Baseball player and manager who rose to folk hero status through stints as Chicago Cubs manager and New York Yankees bench coach.
Worthy candidates all. If I had a vote, I’d go with Charlie Finley, Don Zimmer and the dude who invented Wiffle Ball. If I were opening a nickname Hall of Fame, “Bonesetter” Reese would be first-ballot.