He literally wrote the book on baseball card classification, devoting the majority of his life to what was then a fringe hobby at best for adults. Now, the late Jefferson Burdick’s accomplishments have him up for an honor bestowed by an organization that believes baseball is more than just stats.
Card collecting pioneer Jefferson Burdick has been named to a list of 50 eligible candidates for the 2010 election of the Shrine of the Eternals, the Baseball Reliquary’s version of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
This year marks the twelfth annual election of the Shrine, a major national component of the Baseball Reliquary, a Southern California-based organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history.
The Shrine of the Eternals is similar in concept to the annual elections held at the Baseball Hall of Fame, but differs philosophically in that statistical accomplishment is not a criterion for election. Rather, the Shrine’s annual ballot is comprised of individuals – from the obscure to the well-known – who have altered the baseball world in ways that supersede statistics.
Burdick, who died in 1963, was nominated by freelance sportswriter David Davis. Often referred to as "the father of card collecting," Burdick amassed a collection of 300,000-plus trading cards, including over 30,000 baseball cards, for which he developed a system of cataloging that remains in use today. He eventually would donate his collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and according to the Reliquary’s nominating committee, "remains a stellar example of the baseball card collector as researcher and scholar rather than speculator and celebrity hunter."
"Our committee felt Burdick was an excellent choice, and since our annual ballot represents a wide spectrum of the baseball experience, it is important that someone like Burdick be represented for his pioneering role in the baseball card hobby," stated Terry Cannon, Executive Director of the Baseball Reliquary.
It will be Burdick’s first appearance on the Shrine ballot. Cannon indicated that the only others associated with baseball cards who have been on the ballot were former Topps’ president Sy Berger (in 2001 and 2002), and Brendan Boyd and Fred Harris, authors of the hugely popular "Great American Baseball Card Flipping and Bubble Gum Book", who appeared as a duo in 2002.
While the Baseball Hall of Fame’s electees are chosen in voting conducted by a select group of sportswriters or committees, the Baseball Reliquary chooses its enshrinees by a vote open to the public.
"Each year a screening committee selected by the Baseball Reliquary’s Board of Directors compiles a list of nominees for the annual election," Cannon explained. "Most of the nominations are made by Reliquary members and friends of the Reliquary."
The thirty-three individuals previously elected to the Shrine of the Eternals are, in alphabetical order: Jim Abbott, Dick Allen, Emmett Ashford, Moe Berg, Yogi Berra, Ila Borders, Jim Bouton, Jim Brosnan, Bill Buckner, Roberto Clemente, Steve Dalkowski, Rod Dedeaux, Jim Eisenreich, Dock Ellis, Mark Fidrych, Curt Flood, Josh Gibson, William "Dummy" Hoy, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Bill James, Bill "Spaceman" Lee, Roger Maris, Marvin Miller, Minnie Minoso, Buck O’Neil, Satchel Paige, Jimmy Piersall, Pam Postema, Jackie Robinson, Lester Rodney, Fernando Valenzuela, Bill Veeck, Jr., and Kenichi Zenimura.
Each year two multi-colored acrylic plaques are fabricated for each of the three inductees. One plaque is presented to the inductee, or family member of the inductee, and the other plaque is maintained in the Baseball Reliquary’s collection. The plaques are regularly exhibited throughout Southern California, mostly in public and academic libraries, along with assorted biographical information and artifacts related to the inductees.
Coverage of last year’s induction in Pasadena, CA scan be found here.
The Reliquary has over 200 members across North America and in a few other countries. Annual membership is $25.