Sunday, July 23, 2006
Pasadena, California

Despite temperatures reaching a scorching 112 degrees (making it the hottest day on record in Pasadena), a standing-room-only crowd attended the 2006 Induction Day ceremony for the eighth class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals on Sunday, July 23, 2006, in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium, Pasadena Central Library, Pasadena, California. Nearly 200 people were on hand to celebrate the inductions of Josh Gibson, Fernando Valenzuela, and Kenichi Zenimura, who were elected by the membership of the Baseball Reliquary in voting conducted in April 2006. The inductees received the highest number of votes from a ballot consisting of fifty candidates.

The keynote address was delivered by Samuel O. Regalado, a professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus. In addition, the Baseball Reliquary honored the recipients of the 2006 Hilda Award, Bill Murray, and the 2006 Tony Salin Memorial Award, Kerry Yo Nakagawa. All photos courtesy of Jeff Levie.

For additional photos and coverage of the ceremony, see Don Malcolm’s article, “In Praise of Otherness: Pioneer Days at the Baseball Reliquary’s Induction Ceremony,” and Mikey Hirano Culross’ article, “They Led by Being” (link no longer works).

Ellie Choate

The ceremony commenced with Ellie Choate performing the National Anthem on harp, followed by a medley of “In the Good Old Summertime” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

Tom Tully

A mainstay of Off the Wall, Los Angeles’ longest-running improv comedy ensemble, Tom Tully prepares to accept the 2006 Hilda Award on behalf of comedian, actor, and Chicago Cubs fan extraordinaire Bill Murray. Named in honor of the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers fan Hilda Chester, the Hilda was established as an annual award by the Baseball Reliquary in 2001 to recognize distinguished service to the game by a baseball fan.

Kerry Yo Nakagawa

Kerry Yo Nakagawa, founder and director of the Nisei Baseball Research Project, a Fresno, California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of Japanese Americans in baseball, gratefully accepts the 2006 Tony Salin Memorial Award. The award, established in memory of the late author, historian, and Reliquarian, Tony Salin, recognizes individuals who are engaged in the preservation of baseball history. Nakagawa would later return to the podium to introduce Kenichi Zenimura’s induction.

Samuel O. Regalado

Samuel O. Regalado, Professor of History at California State University, Stanislaus, delivers the keynote address for the 2006 Induction Day.

Leroy Cooper

Leroy Cooper introduces Sean Gibson, who accepted the induction of Josh Gibson into the Shrine of the Eternals on behalf of the Gibson family. A retired fireman for the City of Inglewood, California, Cooper has immersed himself in the history of African-American baseball since his teenage years when he was introduced to and played for the legendary Negro League pitcher Chet Brewer.

Sean Gibson

Sean Gibson accepts the induction of his great-grandfather, Josh Gibson, into the Shrine of the Eternals. As Executive Director of the Pittsburgh-based Josh Gibson Foundation, which provides youth with greater access to educational resources, scholarships, support services, and training, Sean actively promotes his great-grandfather’s extraordinary legacy.

Tomas Benitez

Born and raised in East Los Angeles, California, Tomas Benitez introduces inductee Fernando Valenzuela and Bobby Castillo. The Development Director for Plaza de la Raza, the only multidisciplinary cultural arts center serving Latinos in Los Angeles, Benitez appeared on the same stage four years earlier to introduce Minnie Minoso’s induction into the Shrine of the Eternals.

Bobby Castillo

Former teammate Bobby Castillo accepts the induction of Fernando Valenzuela on his behalf. Valenzuela was unable to attend the ceremony as he was announcing on the Dodgers’ Spanish-language radio broadcast that afternoon. Castillo, a former relief pitcher who is credited with teaching Valenzuela the screwball, elicited laughter from the audience by remarking, “I’m still finishing up for him.”

Kenso “Howard” Zenimura

Kenso “Howard” Zenimura walks to the podium to accept the induction of his father, Kenichi Zenimura, into the Shrine of the Eternals. Howard played baseball at Fresno State College and, in the 1950s, played professionally in Japan with the Hiroshima Carp. For over 25 years, he has coached and organized youth baseball teams in Fresno which annually compete in goodwill tours with Japan, Korea, China, Mexico, and Hawaii.

Tets Furukawa and Kerry Yo Nakagawa flank Kenso Howard Zenimura

Tets Furukawa and Kerry Yo Nakagawa flank Kenso Howard Zenimura, who holds the Shrine of the Eternals inductee plaque for his father, Kenichi. Furukawa played baseball in the World War II internment camp at Gila River, Arizona, where, under Kenichi Zenimura’s guidance, baseball fields were constructed and teams and leagues were formed behind barbed wire.

Bobby Castillo, Kenso Howard Zenimura, and Sean Gibson

Bobby Castillo, Kenso Howard Zenimura, and Sean Gibson.

 Reliquary member Jennie Reiff, wearing a Homestead Grays jersey, with Sean Gibson.

Reliquary member Jennie Reiff, wearing a Homestead Grays jersey, with Sean Gibson.

Julisa Terry with Sean Gibson.

Julisa Terry with Sean Gibson.

 Bobby Castillo

Bobby Castillo signs autographs for baseball fans in attendance.

Bobby Castillo greets Dr. David Fletcher

Bobby Castillo greets Dr. David Fletcher, the 2005 Hilda Award recipient, who was attending the 2006 ceremony from his home in Chicago.

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