PASADENA CENTRAL LIBRARY, PASADENA, CALIFORNIA
The Baseball Reliquary presents a sumptuous feast for the eyes, A Baseball Buffet, an exhibition at the Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut Street, from July 5-July 30, 2015. The exhibition incorporates a variety of themes and subject matter, utilizing photographs, artworks, and artifacts. Sample the dishes, or consume the full meal – we guarantee that you will leave well satisfied. Here’s a sneak peek of the entrees to be served:
For appetizers, in the North Entry display cases, “Culinary Baseball: Dishing Up the National Pastime” explores the historic relationship between food and baseball, featuring trading cards issued to promote food products; menus, napkins, and matchbooks from restaurants owned by former ballplayers; and artifacts which could only appear in the “Culinary Wing” of the Baseball Reliquary.
In the Reading Wing, the first course spotlights a couple of displays that are truly out of left field. One case will house Los Angeles artist Pat Riot’s large portrait of Baltimore Orioles slugger and Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, made of chewed bubblegum on an aluminum panel, part of a series of artworks featuring baseball heroes from his youth. Riot describes working on these pointillist-style bubblegum portraits like this: “The inside of my mouth feels like a family of little sugar birds has built a nest made of plastic grass and gummy-worm skin. My jawbone sounds like fresh rubber snapping when I chew solid foods, and the joints on my thumb and index finger of my right hand have been ground-down like old brake pads by the incessant pinching and rolling of ten thousand little gum balls.” After twelve weeks of masticating for one show, Riot’s dentist and internist diagnosed him with tempromandibular disorder (TMD). An arduous and at times painful art form, indeed, but the finished work is astounding and must be seen to be believed!
In a second case in the Reading Wing will be “Greg Jezewski’s Reliquary.” Those who have long been associated with the Reliquary know that our collection is unique only from the standpoint that it exists as a public entity with a nonprofit status. There are many collectors who have their own unique baseball reliquaries, consisting of fabulous artifacts and ephemera, which often are seen only by a small circle of friends and fellow fanatics. One such reliquary belongs to Los Angeles artist Greg Jezewski, whose magnificent paintings, assemblages, and mixed-media works have been featured over the years at numerous exhibitions sponsored by the Baseball Reliquary and the Institute for Baseball Studies. Consider this display as similar to looking through a knothole and catching a glimpse of Greg’s wonderfully eclectic collection. It might even inspire you to start your own baseball reliquary!
As we move over to the Humanities Wing for the next course, viewers will travel through another dimension into a wondrous land of baseball history. The first stop, entitled “Ghosts of Hoboken,” spotlights Hoboken, New Jersey, where the first baseball game between two organized teams took place in 1846 at Elysian Fields, just a short ferry ride from Manhattan. That game, which was played under the first written rules of modern baseball, positioned Hoboken as a baseball mecca in the mid-19th century. On view will be one of the world’s most sacrosanct baseball relics, whose acquisition by the Baseball Reliquary in 1997 startled the sporting world: a clump of soil removed from the area in front of the batter’s box at Elysian Fields in 1853 and preserved by the Orr family of Reading, Pennsylvania for over a century. Then we cross over into the Twilight Zone with an homage to the Hoboken Zephyrs and a robot named Casey, who just happened to be the fastest pitcher of all-time, courtesy of the bountiful imagination of one Rod Serling.
The final entrée in the Humanities Wing, “You Could Look It Up,” is a tribute to Eddie Gaedel, the patron saint of Little Leaguers, whose one at-bat for Bill Veeck’s St. Louis Browns is the stuff of legends. On August 19, 1951 in Sportsman’s Park, the 3’7” Gaedel, weighing all of 65 pounds and wearing jersey number 1/8, walked into baseball immortality. In honor of his 90th birthday, the Baseball Reliquary teams with the Spokane, Washington-based Eddie Gaedel Society and its founder, 2015 Hilda Award recipient Tom Keefe, to look back at the legacy of a player who had a perfect on-base percentage and whose autograph is now worth more than Babe Ruth’s!
Dessert will be provided in the Centennial Room, where “Bingo Bango Bilko!” highlights the life and times of Los Angeles baseball luminary Steve Bilko, who will be inducted into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals on July 19. While it never developed into the legendary refrain of an early 20th century Chicago Cubs double play combination (“Tinker to Evers to Chance”), “Bingo to Bango to Bilko” had a nice ring to it even if the triumvirate – Ernie Banks, Gene Baker, and Steve Bilko – didn’t play together long; in fact, Bilko appeared in only 47 games for the Cubs in 1954. But Chicago’s loss would become L.A.’s good fortune, because from 1955-1957 “Stout Steve” became the greatest slugging star in the city’s history, using Wrigley Field as his own personal launching pad, blasting 148 home runs for the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. The “Slugging Seraph,” as he was called, developed such a cult following that comedian Phil Silvers named his famous television character, Sergeant Bilko, after the first baseman.
Pasadena Central Library hours for A Baseball Buffet are Monday-Thursday, 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 9:00 a.m-6:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m. For further information, contact the Baseball Reliquary by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (626) 791-7647. For directions to the Pasadena Central Library, phone (626) 744-4066 during library hours. The exhibition is made possible, in part, by a grant to the Baseball Reliquary from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.