The BASEBALL RELIQUARY Inc.
THE HILDA AWARD
At the Shrine of the Eternals 2001 Induction Day, the Baseball Reliquary announced the establishment of a new award to be bestowed on an annual basis. The Hilda Award is named in memory of the late Hilda Chester, perhaps the most famous fan in baseball history. Often referred to as “Howling Hilda” or the “First Lady of Flatbush,” Chester was an institution at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, where she cheered on her beloved Dodgers for three decades.
The Hilda Award was established to honor baseball fans and their importance to the game and its history. In announcing the award, Terry Cannon, the Baseball Reliquary’s Executive Director, said, “Despite suffering through strikes and lockouts and the various economic indignities that major league baseball has inflicted on them, the fans are always there to cheer for and to live, love, and die for their hometown teams. The motion pictures have their Oscar, television has its Emmy, and now baseball has its Hilda. And hopefully, over the course of time, this award will help remedy the woeful under-representation of the paying customer in the game’s official history.”
The award itself consists of Hilda Chester’s signature noisemaker, a cowbell, encased and mounted in a Plexiglas box bearing an engraved description.
2001 RECIPIENT: REA WILSON
The recipient of the inaugural Hilda Award, Rea Wilson of Seal Beach, California, was formally announced and introduced at the Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day on July 29, 2001 in Pasadena, California. In the early 1990s, Bob and Rea Wilson, who were Los Angeles Dodgers season ticket holders for nearly 20 years, dreamed of making a pilgrimage to all 30 major league ballparks. They began saving money to make this journey, and despite losing her husband to cancer in 1993, Mrs. Wilson kept their dream alive. In the summer of 2000, as a tribute to her husband of 48 years and in celebration of the new millennium, Rea Wilson traveled 18,000 miles and visited every major league ballpark in the United States and Canada. She kept a wonderfully detailed journal of her trip, which began April 4 in Anaheim and ended June 30 in San Francisco.
Rea Wilson, winner of the Hilda Award for 2001
What made this odyssey all the more remarkable is that Mrs. Wilson was 77 years old, she traveled alone, and drove the entire trip in her Dodge van, sleeping many nights in the van on a mattress where bench seats once were. While crisscrossing the United States and Canada, she listened to books on tape and made the first inning of every game. This meant that speed limits sometimes had to be broken. On June 15, for instance, Mrs. Wilson saw a game in Minneapolis, then drove 700 miles the next day to make a game in Denver on June 17. “I drove 75 miles per hour, mostly,” she said with a chuckle. “I never got a ticket and didn’t have any accidents.”
(Photographs courtesy of Larry Goren)
NOMINATIONS FOR THE HILDA AWARD
The Baseball Reliquary invites the general public to nominate deserving fans for the Hilda Award. From the nominations received, the annual recipients will be selected. If you would like to make a nomination, please fill out completely the form below and submit it to the Baseball Reliquary.