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For Immediate Release – July 9, 2008
Contact: Terry Cannon, Executive Director, The Baseball Reliquary
Phone (626) 791-7647; e-mail:


Sunday, July 20, 2008 ~ 2:00 PM

Donald R. Wright Auditorium, Pasadena Central Library
285 East Walnut Street, Pasadena, California
Free Admission / Information (626) 791-7647

                The Baseball Reliquary will present the 2008 Induction Day ceremony for its historic tenth class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals on Sunday, July 20, 2008, beginning at 2:00 PM, at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, 285 East Walnut Street, Pasadena, California. The doors will open at 1:30 PM, and admission is open to the public and free of charge. The inductees will be Buck O’Neil, Emmett Ashford, and Bill Buckner. The keynote address will be delivered by Albert Kilchesty. In addition, the Baseball Reliquary will honor the recipients of the 2008 Hilda Award, John Adams, and the 2008 Tony Salin Memorial Award, David W. Smith of Retrosheet.
                The festivities will commence with an Induction Day tradition, the ceremonial bell ringing in honor of the late Brooklyn Dodgers fan Hilda Chester; everyone who attends is encouraged to bring a bell to ring for the occasion. The National Anthem and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” will be performed on the pedal steel guitar by Doug Livingston.
                For further information, contact the Baseball Reliquary by phone at (626) 791-7647 or by e-mail at The 2008 Induction Day is co-sponsored by the Pasadena Public Library and is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.


                The highest honor afforded an individual by the Baseball Reliquary is election to the Shrine of the Eternals. Three individuals are elected on an annual basis in voting conducted by the membership of the Reliquary. Similar in concept to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Shrine of the Eternals differs philosophically in that statistical accomplishment is not a criterion for election; the Shrine, rather, honors individuals who have impacted the baseball landscape in ways that do not necessarily have anything to do with numbers. The 2008 electees will join previous inductees Jim Abbott, Dick Allen, Moe Berg, Yogi Berra, Ila Borders, Jim Bouton, Jim Brosnan, Roberto Clemente, Rod Dedeaux, Dock Ellis, Mark Fidrych, Curt Flood, Josh Gibson, William “Dummy” Hoy, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Bill James, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Marvin Miller, Minnie Minoso, Satchel Paige, Jimmy Piersall, Pam Postema, Jackie Robinson, Lester Rodney, Fernando Valenzuela, Bill Veeck Jr., and Kenichi Zenimura.
                The playing career of BUCK O’NEIL (1911-2006) was in decline by the time Jackie Robinson debuted with the Dodgers in 1947, and while he never had the chance to play in the Major Leagues, he was recognized as the slickest first baseman in the Negro Leagues. Born John Jordan O’Neil, Buck picked up his nickname during a short stint with the Zulu Cannibal Giants, a novelty barnstorming act. He found a home eventually in Kansas City in 1938 where he starred with the fabled Kansas City Monarchs, a team he later managed as well. He played in the Negro League All-Star Game three times, won the Negro American League batting title in 1946, and led the Monarchs to numerous pennants. After the Negro Leagues dissolved following integration, Buck was named as a coach for the Chicago Cubs in 1962, the first black coach in Major League Baseball. With the Cubs he mentored players such as Ernie Banks, sweet-swinging Billy Williams, and young Oscar Gamble. He wrote and spoke incessantly about the Negro Leagues and its players, doing more to keep their memories alive than anyone. When the idea came about for establishing a Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Buck was the consensus choice as spokesman/organizer. He cemented his position as the premier oral historian of the Negro Leagues with a captivating series of interviews in Ken Burns’ PBS documentary, Baseball, entrancing generations of fans with his folksy narrative style and effervescent smile. He kept a grueling schedule of personal appearances and speaking engagements at ballparks and in small communities throughout the country well into his nineties, before his passing at the age of 94 in 2006.
                Buck O’Neil’s induction will be accepted by a representative of the O’Neil family and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, although that person had not yet been identified at the time this press release was issued.
                EMMETT ASHFORD (1914-1980) holds the distinction of being the first African-American umpire to officiate in both Minor and Major League Baseball. Born in Los Angeles, Ashford took a job with the Post Office prior to World War II, where he became involved in umpiring Post Office games in an independent league. After service in the Navy during the war, Ashford returned to a world suddenly fraught with new possibilities for a black man interested in umpiring: Jackie Robinson had integrated the Major Leagues in 1947. Roles for black umpires couldn’t be far behind. Ashford began umpiring in the Minors in 1951, eventually working his way up to the Pacific Coast League, where he was named Umpire in Chief. Recognizing the social changes happening around the country, the American League bought Ashford’s PCL contract, and beginning in 1966, he became the most visible and easily the best dressed umpire in the Major Leagues. Ashford’s relatively small size (he was roughly 5’7” and 180 pounds) and personality caused him to develop an animated style, where he was often described as dancing with great agility around the plate. He indulged in extra physicality and animation, and often made his voice boom to gain attention. Ashford was a tremendous showman, a styler. He was also a very sharp dresser, a reputation that would follow him throughout his career. Ashford worked the 1967 All-Star Game and the 1970 World Series. After his mandatory retirement in 1970, Ashford kept his hand in baseball as a special assistant to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and also found work as a performer in the entertainment industry, including a role as the plate umpire in The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings, the 1976 comedic film about a team of enterprising Negro League ballplayers in the era of racial segregation. This baseball pioneer died from a heart attack in 1980.
                Emmett Ashford’s induction will be accepted by his daughter, ADRIENNE ASHFORD. Mr. Ashford will be introduced by another legendary arbiter, CECE CARLUCCI, who umpired in the Pacific Coast League from 1950-1961 and is the first and only umpire inducted into the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame. Carlucci, who was Ashford’s crew chief when he broke into the PCL in 1954, is still going strong at age 90, and operates a successful business out of his home, producing customized gear for umpires.
                Born in 1949, BILL BUCKNER is living proof that history is not always kind or just. He resides in that infamous fraternity of former players, including the likes of Fred Merkle, Fred Snodgrass, and Mickey Owen, who have been stigmatized by one momentous misplay. In the case of Buckner, the harsh shadow cast by his notorious miscue has prevented a fair and reasoned assessment of his career. Despite chronic and crippling injuries and often playing in excruciating pain, Buckner produced impressive numbers in twenty-two Major League seasons (1969-1990), mostly with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and Boston Red Sox. He finished with 2,715 hits, won a batting title in 1980, and is among a select few to have recorded 200-hit seasons in both the American and National Leagues. Yet on October 25, 1986, the first baseman’s legacy would be tarnished, particularly in the minds of many Boston fans, by booting Mookie Wilson’s grounder and enabling the New York Mets to climax an incredible come-from-behind victory against the Red Sox in the tenth inning of the sixth game of the 1986 World Series. Although Buckner has endured the brunt of the responsibility for the Red Sox’ failure, there were others who could easily share some of the blame, including pitchers Calvin Schiraldi and Bob Stanley, who failed to hold the lead in the bottom of the tenth inning.  A successful businessman in Idaho, Buckner returned to Boston this year to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Red Sox home opener, where he received a lengthy standing ovation from the Fenway faithful. Hopefully his appearance in Boston, combined with his election to the Shrine of the Eternals, marks the beginning of a period of healing and will allow us to remember Buckner for the great player that he was and not for the mistake that he made.
                Bill Buckner will be introduced by longtime Sports Illustrated contributor and former Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist, JOHN SCHULIAN, who covered Buckner when he played for the Cubs. Schulian’s widely anthologized work has been included in many sports books, and his 2005 book, Twilight of the Long-ball Gods: Dispatches from the Disappearing Heart of Baseball, reaffirmed his status as one of the preeminent sportswriters of our time.


                The keynote address for the 2008 Induction Day will be presented by ALBERT KILCHESTY, the Archivist and Historian of the Baseball Reliquary. Kilchesty delivered the keynote address at the inaugural Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day in 1999, and returns to the podium now for the tenth anniversary ceremony.
                The ceremony will also feature the presentation of the 2008 Hilda Award, named in memory of the beloved Brooklyn Dodgers fan Hilda Chester and given annually to a fan for his/her extraordinary passion for and dedication to baseball. This year’s recipient is JOHN ADAMS, a lifelong Cleveland Indians fan who is celebrating his 35th consecutive year of pounding his bass drum in the bleachers at Indians games, come rain or come shine. Adams, who has twice thrown out a ceremonial first pitch at Jacobs Field and was honored last year with his own bobblehead night (naturally, the toy was designed so that Adams’ arms can be bobbled up and down to bang on the little instrument), will appear in person with his drum to accept the award.
                Another highlight of the ceremony will be the presentation of the 2008 Tony Salin Memorial Award, named for the late baseball author and researcher, which annually honors one individual for his/her dedication to preserving baseball history. This year’s recipient is DAVID W. SMITH, a Biology professor at the University of Delaware since 1975. Always attracted to baseball history, both numerical and literary, Smith began keeping detailed records from his homemade scorecards at the age of 11. In 1989 he founded Retrosheet, a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to the collection, computerization, and free distribution of play by play accounts of Major League games. There are now over 107,000 game accounts available free of charge at The Retrosheet effort continues as additional seasons are added to the Web site each year. Smith, who resides in Newark, Delaware, will accept the award in person.


                A limited number of free parking spaces are available at the north end of the Pasadena Central Library in the library lot, on Garfield Avenue just north of Walnut Street. Please note that additional free parking is available at the adjacent University of Phoenix underground parking structure, which is located just north of the library parking lot. To access the University of Phoenix lot, enter the driveway near the corner of Garfield Avenue and Corson Street.  

This vintage UPI wire service photo, dated April 24, 1954, was titled "First Negro Ump Gets Tips."  Emmett Ashford, the first black umpire in organized baseball, gets a few pointers on roughing up baseballs from Pacific Coast League senior umpire Cece Carlucci (center) as umpire Mickey Hanich looks on.  Ashford had recently joined the PCL after working as an umpire in several lower minor league classifications.  Carlucci, now 90 years old, will introduce Ashford’s induction into the Shrine of the Eternals in Pasadena, California on July 20, 2008.  Ashford’s daughter, Adrienne, will accept the induction on behalf of the pioneering arbiter.


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