A Baseball Hall of Fame for the Soul

Baseball equipment from Homerun Monkey

If I have one cause as a baseball blogger, it’s to advance a kind of fandom defined by idiosyncratic love as opposed to institutionalized expectations. That being: More Roger Maris Museum in a strip mall in  North Dakota Dakota, and less apocalyptic columnist types freaking out about how buff Jeff Bagwell was or wasn’t in 1999.

Because simply railing from the sidelines about various bullshit is not sufficient for me, I have also recently become a member of The Baseball Reliquary, an L.A.-based organization dedicated to fostering the notion of baseball as culture. The main draw of the Reliquary, for me, was the Shrine of the Eternals — a sort of punk rock alternative to the Hall of Fame. I’ve been reading Jon Weisman discuss the Shrine for years (Jon calls it a “Baseball Hall of Fame for the soul”), and finally joined after a friend sent the most imploring group email I’ve ever received. Here’s a bit of the official description:

Similar to Cooperstown’s National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Shrine of the Eternals differs philosophically in that statistical accomplishment is not the principal criterion for election. It is believed that the election of individuals on merits other than statistics and playing ability will offer the opportunity for a deeper understanding and appreciation of baseball than has heretofore been provided by “Halls of Fame” in the more traditional and conservative institutions.

Right on. This morning I stuck my completed ballot in the mail — and did so joyously. The rules allowed me to vote for up to nine nominees, and as somebody who has argued only semi-facetiously that Jeff Blauser should be inducted in Cooperstown, I obviously used up all nine votes. Just reading about the candidates in the totally fascinating, well-researched pamphlet that accompanied my ballot, was  worth the price of admission. Among those nominated? Curtis Pride, David Wells, J.R. Richard, and Charlie Brown. How can you not love a Hall of Fame that elects fictional characters?

Below is a photo I snapped of my ballot:

For those of you confounded by my handwriting, those names are: Bert Campaneris, Steve Blass, Hideo Nomo, Manny Mota, Lisa Fernandez, Dr. Frank Jobe, Annabelle Lee, Dan Quisenberry, and Luis Tiant.

Predictably, I leaned toward Dodger-associated figures and pitchers who ooze weird style. I also thought it was important to take advantage of this more democratic induction process to get women their rightful respect and appreciation in the baseball world. (Cooperstown’s version of induction pretty much automatically disqualified women from anything but second-class recognition.)

The results should be announced on Friday.

P.S.: I couldn’t find it written anywhere that these ballots were supposed to be secret. If I have breached any kind of Stonecutters-esque ethical code, I apologize.

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