Established in 2002 by the Baseball Reliquary to recognize individuals for their commitment to the preservation of baseball history, the Tony Salin Memorial Award is named in honor of the baseball historian and researcher who passed away in 2001 at the all-too-young age of 49. From the time he was eight years old, Tony was referred to as “Mr. Baseball” by family and friends, whom he regularly astounded with his exhaustive knowledge of facts and trivia related to old-time ballplayers. Over the years, this preoccupation blossomed into a passion for the study and research of unsung players and forgotten aspects of baseball history, which he felt were important to document and keep alive for future generations. The Tony Salin Memorial Award is an antiquated baseball encased and mounted in a Plexiglas box bearing an engraved inscription, and it is presented annually at the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day. The recipients are as follows:
- 2002: Peter Golenbock
- 2003: David Nemec
- 2004: Bill Weiss
- 2005: Richard Beverage
- 2006: Kerry Yo Nakagawa
- 2007: Mark Rucker
- 2008: David W. Smith
- 2009: Mike Shannon
- 2010: Stew Thornley
- 2011: Paul Dickson
- 2012: Dave Kelly
- 2013: Steve Bandura
- 2014: Jerry Cohen
- 2015: Gary Joseph Cieradkowski
- 2016: Neftalie Williams
- 2017: Dr. Richard Santillan
- 2018: Ross Altman
- 2019: Bob Busser
2002: Peter Golenbock
A renowned baseball author and historian, Peter Golenbock (whose books include Dynasty: The New York Yankees 1949-1964, Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Wild, High and Tight: The Life and Death of Billy Martin), has mentored many young baseball authors, including Tony Salin, sharing information and offering advice.
2003: David Nemec
A resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, David Nemec is an award-winning novelist and baseball writer. He has authored nine novels and over twenty books on baseball history and memorabilia, including the definitive work on the early years of our national pastime, The Great Encyclopedia of 19th Century Major League Baseball.
2004: Bill Weiss
A statistician of legendary proportions, Bill Weiss of San Mateo, California produced sketchbooks for numerous Minor Leagues containing biographical information and career records for all players in the league. He produced some 200 of these sketchbooks over four decades, providing a wealth of biographical and statistical data which has been of inestimable value to researchers and historians. Weiss also served as the official historian of the Pacific Coast League, edited a weekly newsletter for the California League for over thirty years, and maintained a close affinity with baseball scouts, whom Weiss has called “the unsung heroes of the game.”
2005: Richard Beverage
One of the foremost authorities on the Pacific Coast League, Dick Beverage is founder and president of the Pacific Coast League Historical Society, editor and publisher of its bimonthly newsletter, and the author of seminal books on two of the PCL’s great franchises, the Los Angeles Angels and Hollywood Stars.
2006: Kerry Yo Nakagawa
Kerry Yo Nakagawa is 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. He also curated Diamonds in the Rough, an exhibition on the history of Japanese-American baseball which has traveled throughout the United States and Japan; served as a consultant to Baseball as America, the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s touring exhibition; authored the book Through a Diamond, which chronicles one hundred years of Japanese-American baseball history; and served as associate producer and baseball consultant for American Pastime, a movie about baseball in the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.
2007: Mark Rucker
A prominent baseball photo archivist, Mark Rucker is founder and president of Transcendental Graphics, an historical photo agency that has provided baseball images of all kinds to countless books, films, and other assorted projects, including Ken Burns’ multi-part film series Baseball and ESPN documentaries.
2008: David W. Smith
A Biology professor at the University of Delaware since 1975, David W. Smith has always been attracted to baseball history, both numerical and literary, and began keeping detailed records from his homemade scorecards at the age of eleven. In 1989 he founded Retrosheet, a nonprofit, all-volunteer historical organization dedicated to the collection, computerization, and free distribution of play-by-play accounts of Major League games. With well over 100,000 game accounts available free of charge at www.retrosheet.org, this play-by-play information and its public accessibility have been of extraordinary value to both fans and researchers.
2009: Mike Shannon
Mike Shannon, Cincinnati, Ohio, is founder and editor of Spitball: The Literary Magazine since 1981. While Spitball originally debuted as a baseball poetry journal, it quickly evolved into a broader literary magazine that included baseball short fiction, prose, art, and book reviews. He has authored 15 baseball books, including Diamond Classics: Essays on 100 of the Best Baseball Books Ever Published; Everything Happens in Chillicothe: A Summer in the Frontier League with Max McLeary, the One-Eyed Umpire; and Tales from the Dugout: The Greatest True Baseball Stories Ever Told. Shannon has written a monthly column on baseball collectibles for Reds Report since 1993, and curated a traveling art show devoted to Willie Mays in celebration of his 75th birthday (“24 at 75”).
2010: Stew Thornley
A nearly lifelong resident of the Twin Cities, Stew Thornley is a freelance author who has written several highly-acclaimed books on baseball history, including On to Nicollet: The Glory and Fame of the Minneapolis Millers, about the minor-league baseball team that played in Minneapolis prior to the arrival of the Twins, and Holy Cow! The Life and Times of Halsey Hall, a biography of the Minnesota sportscasting legend and the first man to use the term “Holy Cow!” on a baseball broadcast. An official scorer for Minnesota Twins games since 2007, he has, since the mid-1990s, visited and documented the known graves of over 200 luminaries enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, a fascinating hobby which has earned him the nickname the “Sultan of Cemeteries.”
2011: Paul Dickson
Paul Dickson has authored nearly 60 nonfiction books and hundreds of magazine articles, and his baseball titles include The Hidden Language of Baseball: How Signs and Sign Stealing Have Influenced the Course of Our National Pastime; The Joy of Keeping Score: How Scoring the Game Has Influenced and Enhanced the History of Baseball; The Unwritten Rules of Baseball: The Eitiquette, Conventional Wisdom, and Axiomatic Codes of Our National Pastime; and Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick. Originally published in 1989, The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, the most authoritative and comprehensive guide to baseball terminology ever compiled, ranks as the author’s most popular book.
2012: Dave Kelly
The “go-to” sports expert at the Library of Congress for thirty years, Dave Kelly began working there in 1971 as a book page, retrieving and re-shelving books for researchers. He was appointed to a reference librarian position at the Library of Congress in 1975, later becoming the reference specialist and recommending officer for sports and recreation between 1981 and 2011. In the latter position, he assisted countless baseball authors in their research for books and articles, and his importance in preserving, protecting, and promoting the history of sports in America is unequaled.
2013: Steve Bandura
The recreation director at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center in South Philadelphia, where he coaches the Anderson Monarchs little league baseball team, Steve Bandura is dedicated to reconnecting his players and their families with the rich history of baseball in the African American community. The Monarchs took tremendous pride in following the lead of Jackie Robinson and the great Negro League players that came before him as they broke down barriers, shattered stereotypes, and attempted to write their own history. Under Bandura’s leadership, the Monarchs, in 1997 and again in 2012, were able to travel back in time and live that history when they boarded an authentic 1947 Flexible Clipper bus and barnstormed across the country playing baseball, visiting historic sites, meeting former Negro League players, and raising awareness about this incredible chapter in American history.
2014: Jerry Cohen
Jerry Cohen founded Ebbets Field Flannels in 1988, a Seattle, Washington-based company which manufactures historically-inspired athletic apparel, ranging from handmade reproductions of vintage flannel baseball jerseys to T-shirts, baseball caps, and even grounds crew jackets and sweatshirts, all made with a high level of craftsmanship and respect for authenticity. Simultaneously, Cohen has been preserving the legacies and stories of obscure teams and leagues of the past that might otherwise have been forgotten. His apparel represents teams from the minor leagues, Negro Leagues, the short-lived Federal League of 1914-15, and often obscure independent and barnstorming teams like the House of David. The company’s handiwork has also been seen on the big screen, including the Jackie Robinson biopic 42, for which Ebbets Field Flannels made all the minor league and Negro League uniforms.
2015: Gary Joseph Cieradkowski
An award-winning graphic artist and illustrator, Gary Joseph Cieradkowski is the creative force behind The Infinite Baseball Card Set blog, for which he has designed and produced a series of baseball cards, now numbering close to 200 entries, which resembles the tobacco cards of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Cieradkowski is also the author and illustrator of the book The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes, which spotlights baseball’s forgotten heroes, barnstormers, journeymen, rogues, and stars before they were famous.
2016: Neftalie Williams
Neftalie Williams is a photojournalist, writer, scholar, and recent graduate from the University of Southern California’s Master of Public Diplomacy program. Williams is bringing a new level of understanding to racial dynamics in America as the Research and Development Director for the African-American Experience in Major League Baseball (AAEMLB) oral history project. An ambitious undertaking by the Annenberg Institute of Sports, Media and Society at the University of Southern California, the AAEMLB was established to collect and preserve interviews with every living African-American baseball player from the first 25 years after Major League Baseball’s racial integration, from 1947 to 1971 – comprising well over 100 subjects, many of whose personal histories remain largely undocumented.
2017: Dr. Richard Santillan
Professor emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Dr. Richard Santillan has taught Chicano Studies for the past 45 years in the California State University system. One of the founding members of the Latino Baseball History Project, he has, since 2011, served as the lead author for the Mexican American Baseball book series in conjunction with the Arcadia Publishing company. Over a dozen books have been published, with nearly 2,500 vintage photographs and stories shared. Collectively, these images represent the most comprehensive photo documentation to be made available to the public in the history of baseball research on Mexican American communities in the United States. In 2017, Dr. Santillan donated his extensive collection of Los Angeles Dodgers publications, photographs, and ephemera to the Baseball Reliquary. The materials are housed at the Institute for Baseball Studies at Whittier College, where they are used for research and study by students and scholars, as well as for exhibition purposes.
2018: Ross Altman
The first musician to receive the Tony Salin Memorial Award, Ross Altman began a career as a college professor before deciding to make his living as a troubadour, or, as Ross describes it, he left the classroom for the stage only to turn the stage into a classroom. A legend in the Southern California folk music community, Ross plays both six- and twelve-string acoustic guitars, a long-neck five-string banjo, and enough harmonicas to fill the toolbox in his guitar case. For the past thirty years, he has been inspired to pay homage to his own heroes of the national pastime, and he has written and performed songs about Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle, Phil Niekro, and Roger Clemens, as well as Shrine of the Eternals inductees Jackie Robinson, Jimmy Piersall, Steve Bilko, Vin Scully, and Pete Rose. In addition to releasing a CD collection of some of his baseball songs entitled The National Pastime (Grey Goose Music, 2016), Ross has performed at many venues, including public libraries; at past induction ceremonies for the Shrine of the Eternals; and at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, where he was a featured artist on the Baseball Reliquary’s 2004 program, “Legacies: Baseball from Flatbush to the City of Angels.”
2019: Bob Busser
The first photographer to receive the Tony Salin Memorial Award, Bob Busser began his ballpark quest as an eight-year-old when he went to his first baseball game at Dodger Stadium and snapped two black-and-white photos with his brownie camera. His first real road trip was in July 1976 when he went to a game at Fenway Park. Forty-three years later, Busser’s quest continues. One of the preeminent ballpark and arena historians, he has photographed over 900 venues in those 43 years, and has amassed an immense archive of over 75,000 images. Sometimes the venues are brand new, and other times they are falling apart. Many of Busser’s photos have appeared in books, magazines, and exhibitions, and his treasure trove of images can be viewed online at https://ballparks.smugmug.com/ and on his Facebook page, “Ballparks, Stadiums and Arenas of the past and present.”