The Board of Directors of the Baseball Reliquary is pleased to announce that Jeff Boujoukos has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Hilda Award. The award will be formally presented at the Shrine of the Eternals 2020 Induction Day, which, due to the coronavirus pandemic, has been postponed until 2021. The festivities will also include the presentation of the 2020 Tony Salin Memorial Award and the induction of the 2020 class of electees to the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals: Rube Foster, Max Patkin, and Bob Costas.
Established in 2001 in memory of Hilda Chester, the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers fan, the Hilda Award recognizes distinguished service to the game by a baseball fan. To Baseball Reliquarians, the award is comparable to the Oscar or Emmy: it acknowledges the devotion and passion of baseball fans, and the many ways in which they exhibit their love affair with the national pastime.
The 2020 recipient, JEFF BOUJOUKOS was born in Boston, Massachusetts in the year of baseball’s rebirth in Boston, 1967. While his parents were casual Red Sox fans, his grandmother on his mother’s side was a huge Sox fan and she planted the seed. She would save the Boston Globe sports sections for Jeff, and when he visited he would pore over them and then cut them up to make posters.
Jeff went to Lehigh University, and then Temple University for law school, where he met his wife Patty. He began his legal career at the law firm of Morgan Lewis, and then moved into public service with the Securities and Exchange Commission in its Philadelphia Regional Office. He was ultimately promoted to Director of the Office, where he served for a decade, until this past February when he returned to private practice at Morgan Lewis.
Despite living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Jeff never lost his love for the Red Sox. In 1992, he was given his first game-used bat by Mike Brumley, the Red Sox backup third baseman, at spring training in Winter Haven. The barrel was wrapped in tape to prevent chipping. It was not until he opened that season’s Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview and read that Louisville Slugger had mislabeled Mike’s bats as “BUMLEY” that he realized how game-used bats were so special. Jeff began by collecting the players he knew and, after finding those, he decided to set a goal of collecting a game-used bat of each Red Sox non-pitcher who had an at-bat for the Sox from 1960 to the present. Why 1960? Because that was the last year for Ted Williams, and 1961 would be the first year for Carl Yastrzemski, his favorite player. “It was an undertaking that I frankly never thought I would complete and as of today amounts to over 525 different players,” Jeff remarked. “With the advent of eBay and networking with a number of fantastic collectors, and with the support of players, I have been able to collect a bat from every player except one, Ken Poulsen.” The bats can be viewed on Jeff’s Boston Game Used Web site.
In 2012, Jeff reached out to the Red Sox in connection with the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park to offer his collection for display. Not only did the Red Sox borrow bats, but it has led to a wonderful relationship with Red Sox curator Sarah Coffin and historian Gordon Edes. Every year Jeff now lends different items from his collection to support the Fenway Park Living Museum Fund, a nonprofit with the mission “to support Fenway Park’s continued preservation and to make Fenway Park’s rich history accessible to fans and the general public by supporting the collection, preservation, safeguarding, and display of historic materials.” Jeff has also supported the Fenway Park Living Museum through donations of artifacts, as well as the Red Sox Foundation and the charitable arm of the Pawtucket Red Sox.
In March 2019, Jeff delivered a presentation at the Library of Congress about the collection with Red Sox curator Sarah Coffin, which was quite an honor and experience. The collection was featured in a Boston Globe article in 2018 by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Stan Grossfeld, who took an incredible picture of the collection from a lift 25 feet over Jeff’s driveway.
“On the Ken Poulsen bat, while I have not found a game-used bat, I was able to work with Gordon Edes to fix an omission from 53 years ago,” Jeff notes. “Poulsen was a mid-season call-up in 1967 from Double-A. In two weeks he had five at-bats, returning to the minor leagues never to reach the majors again. Unfortunately when it came time to issue World Series shares and an AL championship ring, Poulsen was forgotten. When I brought this to the attention of Edes, he leapt into action. While Poulsen passed away in 2017, the Red Sox struck a ’67 ring from the original mold and Poulsen’s son returned to Fenway last summer for the presentation by Sox president Sam Kennedy and ’67 star Jim Lonborg. I can’t help but think that in a ‘Field of Dreams’ type of way, my collection was in part destined to right this Poulsen slight. How else can I explain that the last bat that I need is a bat from a forgotten player on one of the most unforgettable teams in Red Sox history?”
Jeff and Patty Boujoukos have three children – Andrew (21), Patrick (18), and Katie (16) – all of whom are Red Sox fans. “I am honored to have been selected by the Baseball Reliquary for the Hilda Award,” Jeff adds. “While my love and commitment to the game pales in comparison to other Hilda Award winners, it would be an honor and a privilege to come to the Los Angeles area when the ceremony takes place and celebrate the great work of the Baseball Reliquary, its Board, and its members.”