Baseball Remains Survived and Is ‘Better Than the Truth’

LOS ANGELES — Now on display at the Los Angeles Central Library through November in an exhibit titled “Something in Common.” There’s a San Diego chicken costume, a half-smoked cigar from Babe Ruth that’s likely — maybe? Possibly? – was excited by a brothel in Philadelphia in 1924 and a baseball signed by Mother Teresa. The real Mother Teresa? Well… maybe not.

Artifacts are borrowed from Baseball Requisition, a veritable organization that blends wonder and whimsy with deep reverence. Its vibe is somewhere near the intersection of Cooperstown and Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

The stories these gems tell belong to the ages—as now, poignantly, so is Terry Cannon, the cheerful, thoughtful, skilled doer whose curiosity, energy, and passion for his projects was boundless. The non-profit Relic was the brainchild of Canon in 1996. Then in 1999 came Shrine of the Eternal, a kind of distant and mischievous cousin for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The last few years have been tough. The pandemic hit after Cannon’s death from cancer in August 2020. Then a seismic retrofitting closed the Pasadena Central Library indefinitely, where Relic members and fans gathered annually to pay tribute to those involved as wide and diverse as Jim Boughton (2001). Shoeless Joe Jackson (2002), Buck O’Neill (2008), Marvin Miller (2003) and Charlie Brown (2017).

In this baseball summer of All-Stars playing at Dodger Stadium and past greats such as Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, Jim Catt, Minnie Minoso and O’Neill being honored in Cooperstown, recent silence has sparked concern that The Shrine of Eternal would have been silenced forever. ,

“Not at all,” said Terry’s widow and co-conspirator, Mary Cannon, noting the start of a provocative comeback. “It’s too much in the works.”

The website, which had been dark since January due to technical issues, became active again in early July. And the Shrine’s Class of 2020 will be included in a public ceremony at the Los Angeles Central Library’s Taper Auditorium on November 5 with the conclusion of the six-month exhibition the following day. That class — broadcaster Bob Costas; Rube Foster, known as the father of black baseball; And Max Patkin, the “clown prince of baseball” – has stayed for almost two years.

Baseball Requisition emphasizes the characters over the art, culture and figures of the sport and is funded by a grant from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Thousands of its books, periodicals, periodicals, historical journals, artifacts, original paintings, and correspondence are now housed at Whittier College’s Institute for Baseball Studies.

“Terry and I conceived and carried it forward,” said Joe Price, who accepted Cannon’s request before his death and proceeded to relive. With his infectious enthusiasm and sharp smile, Price seems a natural choice.

Now a professor emeritus in religious studies at Whittier, Price, along with Charles Adams, a retired professor of English at Whittier, spent the pandemic organizing and cataloging the collection of more than 4,000 books according to Library of Congress standards.

Within is where history and historical narratives intermingle. This is where former catcher Mo Berg, who later served as a spy for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, crosses paths with Chicago’s 1979 Disco Demolition Night – With keepsakes from each in the archives. Alas, the Yukata jacket that Berg “might” be wearing in Japan and the “allegedly” partially melted vinyl record from Komiski Park has lost its certificates of authenticity over the years.

Ron Shelton, who wrote and directed Bull Durham, said, “Academy Awards are always won by movie stars, yet everyone who carries their water and makes them look good – character actors are more interesting than movie stars. Huh.” Shelton joined Steve Dulkowski, the inspiration for the film’s Nuke LaLush character, at the 2009 Shrine. Relic is just about everything that isn’t a movie star. ,

Shelton and Cannon became acquainted in the 1970s when they were involved in experimental film groups in the Los Angeles area.

“He was strangely talented,” said Shelton, whose book about the making of Bull Durham, “The Church of Baseball,” was published this month. “I use Oddly in the most positive way. He not only had his own drummer, but he had the kind of vision that went with him. Relics is truly a work of fiction. The collection lives on in your mind.” And sometimes in your heart.”

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Shrine’s inaugural class in 1999 included Kurt Flood, who took MLB to court to challenge the reserve clause preventing player movement; Doc Ellis, perhaps best known for claiming to have thrown a no-hitter while high on LSD, but was also a civil rights advocate; and Bill Weeks, the maverick boss who was a master showman.

At the ceremony, Cannon read Ellis a letter from Jackie Robinson praising his civil rights work, warning him that people inside and outside the game would eventually turn against him. Alice’s tears welled up. Later, he donned a set of his hair curlers.

They’re authentic, as is the burlap peanut bag in which the peanuts are “packaged for Gaylord Perry’s peanut farm.” The “iconic” sacrificial box used by a priest at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York to cremate a dying Babe Ruth in 1948? Jock strap “allegedly” worn by Eddie Gedell, the shortest man to appear in an MLB game at 3ft 7in? Eyes twinkle, Price allows that the origins of some of these objects are “certainly questionable.”

“You know, it was really hard to find a kid-sized jock strap,” said Mary Cannon, who added a few touches to it coming from a 1951 St. Louis Brown. “We went to many stores to find that thing. Went in.”

By definition, the word “relic” means “a container for sacred relics.” For Terry Canon and his disciples, the actual authenticity of these “holy relics” is more important than thought from them.

A visual as simple as produce from a grocery store can be a powerful force to ignite the imagination. As a prank when he was in Class AA Williamsport in 1987, catcher Dave Bresnahan heated a potato in left field during a simulated pickoff throw to dodge an opponent to run out from third base to home plate Can go Dave, the distant nephew of Hall of Fame catcher Roger Bresnahan, waited for the runner with the ball at home plate. He was immediately released and never played again. In the In Memoriam, Mary Canon carved two potatoes—at least one of which remains in the archives here in a Mason jar.

“We had no idea that formaldehyde would turn them dark brown,” he said, adding: “There are all these wonderful stories but nothing out there, so we tried to make things solid for people to see.”

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Even within the baseball industry, some are unfamiliar with the relic. Nancy Faust, the retired Chicago White Sox organist who composed walk-up music for the batsmen, got to see it when the call for induction came in 2018.

“My husband, Joe said: ‘What is this, some kind of joke? A baseball aquarium?'” said Faust. “I said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with that.’ When I found out who was going to join me, I thought, ‘Wow! That’s some great company.’ I felt honored to be remembered.”

Faust was cast in 2018 alongside Tommy John and Rusty Staub.

“The rusty stub is perfect, isn’t it?” Costas said. “He’s not quite a Hall of Famer, but he’s an important player. There are other players who aren’t as important, but you put in the rusty stub before you put in Chet Lemon because the rusty stub is ‘Le Grande Orange’.”

Dr. Frank Jobe, the inventor of Tommy John surgery, entered the Shrine before the pitcher in 2012. There is an astronaut (Bill Lee, 2000) and a bird (Mark Fidrich, 2002). Jackie Robinson (2005) and his widow, Rachel (2014), the first female umpire, Pam Postema (2000), and several Negro League representatives also have a rich diversity.

Boughton once referred to the Shrine as the “People’s Hall of Fame”, and traditionally the incorporation began with Terry Cannon, who led the audience to pay tribute to Hilda Chester, perhaps in history. Most Famous Fans.

As Cannon noted at the 2018 ceremony, Chester’s fame began to fade when the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles and “while he died in relative obscurity in 1978, in our community of fans, Hilda is royalty.” And through our annual remembrance, we can rest assured that the final bell for Hilda Chester hasn’t rung yet.

Nor, as it turned out, is it for the relic. In memory of Shelton, it was the poet WD Snodgrass who, while speaking, often told his audience that every time he told a story, it was true.

“Then he’ll stop,” Shelton said. “And say, ‘I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s better than true.’ That’s what the arts do. It’s better than the truth. And that’s where the relic resides.”