Friday, July 24, 2015

Wallet Card Goes To The (Other) Hall Of Fame


Some of you may have read about my meeting Wes Parker at the Baseball Reliquary's Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day. 

Here is my experience of what a grand Induction Day it was! 

The induction was held at Pasadena's Central Library, where there is a simultaneous exhibition of curios and memorabilia from the Reliquary's archives. Here are a few shots from the exhibit...

How about 10 cent beer night! What could possibly go wrong? 

Who doesn't want one of these cool beer coolers? 

Inside the glass you can see the actual plaque the Godfather of Feathers received from the Shrine of the Eternals. 

Just when you thought you've seen it all...along comes a tortilla with Walter O"Malley's ever-lovin' mug on it. 

Wallet Card rightfully took his place beside the other baseball oddballs. 

Laker Dave and I arrived 45 minutes early for the ceremonies, and a line had already formed. 

Note the guy standing alone in the blue shirt and light-colored pants. Yup, it's none other than Wes Parker. He was in line one person ahead of Laker Dave and I, and we never even noticed. I didn't even notice that fact until I inserted this pic into the post! 

Before the ceremonies, just milling around, and noticed this cool jersey. More on this guy coming up. 

 Finally, it's time for the ceremony to begin. Baseball Reliquary Executive Director, Terry Cannon, calls us to order with the ringing of the cowbell; this is done in honor of legendary Brooklyn Dodgers super-fan, Hilda Chester. 

The event began with a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner in a fashion that, according to Terry, "We have likely never seen before, nor will we ever see again".  Boy, was he right! 

Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the podium for this one. Can you spot our lovely singer on the far side of the podium? 

Here's a shot of her belting out a high note...

I have never seen before, nor shall I see again. Thanks to one-of-a-kind singer, Jackie Lee.

On to the first award - the Hilda Award - presented to Tom Keefe, the founder and president of the Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Washington, Chapter 1. 

The society keeps alive the legacy of Gaedel’s historic walk into baseball immortality as a member of the St. Louis Browns in 1951.  They meet annually on August 19th, the anniversary of Gaedel’s one plate appearance, at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille & Pub in Spokane.

 Next was the Tony Salin Memorial Award, given to Gary Joseph Cieradkowski, the man behind The Infinite Baseball Card Set blog. His blog is definitely worth a visit or two. He recently published The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes

Joseph gave a great speech, fascinating us with his tales of crossing the country's minor league parks presenting an exhibit from the Babe Ruth Museum, which featured Ruth's priceless bat from 1927.

Then came the actual inductions. This years class was Glenn Burke, Steve Bilko and Sy Berger. If you don't know who they are, I encourage you to read about them, as they are all certainly deserving of the honor. 

Below is a shot of Glenn Burke's sister, who accepted his induction into the Shrine. Burke, the first openly gay player in baseball, played for the Dodgers, and was traded to Oakland because of the fact he was gay. 

We saw a video clip where his former teammates spoke about how they were devastated by their close friend being shipped off. Some wept openly at their lockers at the news. 

 Below is Steve Bilko, star of the old Pacific Coast League, the Babe Ruth of the West Coast. What a larger than life character. I am now a Steve Bilko collector. (Got that, trade partners?) 

Here is Sy Berger's plaque. Speaking of larger than life characters, ol' Sy was the father of the modern baseball card, and Topps' representative to baseball for many years. 

He was very close to numerous players from the 50's and 60's. Willie Mays called Sy his best friend, and said he never would have made it in baseball if not for Sy. 

A few more shots of the awards and plaques...

What an afternoon of baseball love, shared with lovers of baseball.

 The old tales, often touching, of these baseball players and fans were fascinating and wonderful. I can't wait till next year!  


Sunday, July 19, 2015

There Is Nothing Like A Surprise Auto!


Today Wallet Card and I went out to the Baseball Reliquary's annual induction of honorees into the "other Hall of Fame", the Shrine of the Eternals. 

But that's a story for another post. THIS post is about me running into one of my baseball heroes - my first favorite Dodger! 

Before Steve Garvey was the iron man at first base for the Dodgers, there was Wes Parker - a southpaw just like me. 

So there I was, sitting in the auditorium, awaiting the start of ceremonies, when the guy sitting next to me (who will also be featured in a future post), taps me on the shoulder and asks if I know who that guy is across the aisle; the guy who's signing autographs.

I look over and see a boy of about six approach the mystery man and hand him a baseball to be signed. 

I don't know who it is, so I ask Laker Dave, who is sitting next to me, if he knows who it is. Suddenly I get a hunch. He looks a little older, but he's got that same long and lean frame - I think it's Wes! 

 Laker Dave immediately jumps on his phone and we're scrolling photos trying to match one of them to the man across the aisle. That might be him. 

It's a real old-time Dodger RIGHT THERE! 

I decide to take a chance. I go over to him, and carefully picking my moment, I say, "Excuse me, but my friends and I have a bet. I'm betting that you're Wes Parker." 

He keeps a straight face...maybe I'm wrong???!!!! 

Then an ever-so-slight smile emerges, and he says, "That's a pretty good guess." 

Immediately I'm a ten-year old kid again, right beside my baseball hero! I tell him he was my first favorite Dodger, and he jokes that at least I didn't say Sandy Koufax. 

I ask for an autograph and he obliged me. I picked out what I considered an unimportant page in my program and asked him to feel free to sign as large as he liked. 

Wow !
Afterward, Wes joked that my friend doesn't get an autograph for betting against him. 

THANKS for the great autograph, Wes! 

More on the inductions of Steve Bilko (the Babe Ruth of the West Coast), Glenn Burke (the first openly gay major leaguer), and Sy Berger (50 years with Topps) into the Shrine of the Eternals, to come later.