Los Angeles – Now on display at Los Angeles Central Library through November in an exhibition titled “Something in Common.” There’s a San Diego chicken outfit, a half-smoked cigar from Babe Ruth’s probably – maybe? Probably? Moved from a Philadelphia brothel in 1924 and Mother Teresa signed a baseball game. Real Mother Teresa? Well…maybe not.
The artifacts are on loan from Baseball Reliquary, a true organization that blends wonder and whims with deep reverence. Its vibe lands somewhere near the intersection of Cooperstown and Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
The stories told by this gem belong to the ages – as now, poignantly, so did Terry Cannon, the witty, brilliant, and witty doer whose curiosity, energy and passion for his projects were boundless. The nonprofit organization Reliquary was Cannon’s brainchild in 1996. Then came the Eternal Shrine, a sort of distant and mischievous cousin to the Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1999.
The past few years have been difficult. The epidemic hit, followed by Canon dies of cancer in August 2020. The seismic retrofit then closed indefinitely the Pasadena Central Library, where Relicory members and fans gather annually to honor volunteers as wide and varied as Jim Button (2001), Shawless Joe Jackson (2002), Buck O’Neal (2008) ), Marvin Miller (2003) and Charlie Brown (2017).
In this summer of baseball with the All Stars playing at Dodger Stadium and former greats like Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso and O’Neil honored in Cooperstown, a recent silence has raised the concern that the Eternals shrine may be silenced forever .
“Absolutely not,” said Mary Cannon, Terry’s widow and her co-conspirators, noting the beginnings of a dramatic comeback. “There is a lot in the works.”
The site, which has been dark since January due to technical difficulties, came back to life in early July. Shrine’s 2020 class will be presented on November 5 in a public ceremony at the Taper Auditorium at the Los Angeles Central Library that will coincide with the closing of the six-month exhibition the following day. that category – broadcaster Bob Costas; Rob Foster, known as the father of black baseball; And Max Patkin, “The Prince of Baseball the Clown” – has been on a hiatus for about two years.
“Wonderful,” said Costas, who, like many others, assumed that relief had been lost to the pandemic. “But I better come, because I am the only one still alive. This is the Eternal Shrine, and the other two are already in Eternity.”
The Baseball Reliquary emphasizes the game’s art, culture, and characters on statistics and is funded in part by a grant from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Thousands of books, periodicals, journals, historical artifacts, artifacts, original paintings, and correspondence are now at Whittier College Baseball Studies.
“Terry and I envisioned it and colluded with it and developed it,” said Joe Price, who accepted a request from Cannon before his death to take charge and direct relief forward. With his infectious enthusiasm and devilish smile, Bryce seems a natural choice.
Now Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Whitter, Price, along with Charles Adams, Emeritus Professor of English at Whitter, has spent the pandemic organizing and cataloging a collection of more than 4,000 books according to Library of Congress standards.
Inside is where history and historical fiction playfully mingle. It’s where Moe Berg, a former poacher who later worked as a spy for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, meets the night of the 1979 disco demolition in Chicago—with memorabilia from each in the archives. Sadly, the yukata jacket that “probably” Berg wore in Japan and the “alleged” partially melted vinyl record from Comiskey Park seem to have lost their COA over the years.
“Movie stars always win Oscars, yet everyone else carries their waters and makes it look good — character actors are more interesting than movie stars,” said Ron Shelton, who wrote and directed Paul Durham. Shelton introduced Steve Dalkosky, the inspiration for movie character Nuke LaLoosh, in Shrine in 2009. “In a certain way, the Hall of Fame honors movie stars, even though many of them are disgraceful characters. The Reliquary is about everything not a movie star.”
Shelton and Cannon became aware when they both participated on experimental film sets in the Los Angeles area in the 1970s.
“He was a strangely genius,” said Shelton, who published his book this month on the Paul Durham industry, The Baseball Church. “I use it in a weird way in the most positive way. Not only did he have his own drummer, he had a kind of vision that went along with him. The Reliquary is truly a work of imagination. The archive lives in your mind and sometimes in your heart.”
Shrine’s inaugural class in 1999 included Kurt Flood, who took the MLB to court to challenge a reserve clause blocking player movement; Dock Ellis, perhaps best known for claiming to have delivered a no-hitter while high on LSD but was also a civil rights advocate; and Bill Vick, the renegade owner who was a master at showing off.
At the party, Cannon read a letter Ellis received from Jackie Robinson praising his civil rights work and warning that people in and out of the game would eventually turn against him. Ellis was moved to tears. Next, donate a set of curling irons.
These are authentic, as is the peanut burlap sack that had “packed” peanuts for Gaylord Berry’s Peanut Farm. The ‘famous’ treasury chest used by a priest at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York to administer the last rites of the dying Babe Ruth in 1948? The “alleged” playing belt worn by Eddie Gaydel, the youngest person to appear in an MLB game at 3 feet 7 inches? Eyes twinkle, and the price tag allows that the provenance of some of these items is “certainly questionable.”
“You know what was really hard to find was a kid-sized jockstrap,” said Mary Cannon, who added a few touches to make it look like it came from the St. Louis Browns in 1951. “We went to many stores to find this thing.”
By definition, the word “relicari” means “receptacle for sacred relics.” For Terry Cannon and his disciples, more important than the actual authenticity of these “sacred relics” is idea who are they.
A simple visual like products from the grocery store can be a powerful force to spark imagination. As a joke when he was at Class AA Williamsport in 1987, catcher Dave Bresnahan shot a potato in the left field during a mock attack throw to trick an opponent into running from third base to outside at the home plate. Dave, a distant nephew of Hall of Fame owner Roger Bresnahan, was waiting to feud with the ball at the home plate. He was immediately released and never played again. On the anniversary, Mary Cannon carved two potatoes — at least one of which lives in the archives here in a mason jar.
“We didn’t realize that formaldehyde would turn it dark brown,” she said, adding, “There are all these great stories but none there, so we tried to create tangible things for people to see.”
Even within the baseball industry, some are not familiar with Relquary. Nancy Faust, the retired Chicago White Sox organist who created music for the speculators, had to look out for her when she got a call to induction in 2018.
My husband, Joe, said, ‘What are these, some kind of joke? Baseball aquarium? I said, ‘There’s nothing fishy about it.’ When I knew who was with me, I thought, ‘Wow! That’s very good company. I felt so proud to remember.’
Faust was entered in 2018, along with Tommy John and Rusty Staub.
“Rusty Stop is a perfect person, isn’t he?” 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 Rusty Staub before you put Chet Lemon because Rusty Staub is ‘Le Grande Orange.'”
Dr.. Frank Joby, inventor of Tommy John’s surgery, preceded the Shrine’s Archer in 2012. There’s an astronaut (Bill Lee, 2000) and a bird (Mark Federich, 2002). There is also rich diversity in Jackie Robinson (2005) and his widow, Rachel (2014), the first female referee, Pam Postima (2000), and several representatives of the Negro Leagues.
Bouton once referred to the shrine as “the People’s Hall of Fame,” and the inductions traditionally began with Terry Cannon leading the audience at rattling cowbells in honor of Hilda Chester, perhaps the most famous fan in history.
As Cannon noted at the 2018 party, Chester’s fame began to wane when the Dodgers’ family left Brooklyn for Los Angeles, and “probably died in relative obscurity in 1978, in our fan community, Hilda is royal. Rest assured that the last bell has yet to ring for Hilda Chester.”
As it turns out, he didn’t do it for Relquary. To Chilton’s memory, it was poet W. D. Snodgrass who often told his audience when speaking that every time he told a story, it was true.
Then it stops, Shelton said. “And say, ‘I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s better than the truth.’ That’s what the arts do. It’s better than the truth. And that’s where relief lives.”