Retired Topps executive Sy Berger is among those on the Baseball Reliquary’s list of 50 eligible candidates for the 2013 election of the Shrine of the Eternals, the membership organization’s equivalent to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This year marks the 15th 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.
The Baseball Reliquary chooses its enshrinees by a vote open to the public. A screening committee appointed by the Reliquary’s Board of Directors prepares a ballot consisting of 50 candidates, on which the membership votes annually. The three candidates receiving the highest percentage of votes gain automatic election.
Among the eligible candidates for 2013, 11individuals appear on the Shrine of the Eternals ballot for the first time. Berger returns to the ballot after a long absence. (Berger appeared on the ballot twice, in 2001 and again in 2002.)
Frequently cited as the father of the modern baseball card, Berger joined the Topps Company, manufacturer of chewing gum, as a sales promotion executive after WWII. In 1952 he designed the template for and oversaw the production of an annual series of baseball trading cards that would quickly emerge as the most coveted Pop Culture artifacts of the 1950s and 1960s – the Topps baseball card – and send the fortunes of the company soaring.
The 42 individuals previously elected to the Shrine of the Eternals are, in alphabetical order: Jim Abbott, Dick Allen, Roger Angell, 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, Ted Giannoulas, Josh Gibson, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, Pete Gray, William “Dummy” Hoy, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Bill James, Dr. Frank Jobe, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Roger Maris, Marvin Miller, Minnie Minoso, Buck O’Neil, Satchel Paige, Jimmy Piersall, Pam Postema, Jackie Robinson, Lester Rodney, Pete Rose, Casey Stengel, Luis Tiant, Fernando Valenzuela, Bill Veeck, Jr., Maury Wills, and Kenichi Zenimura.
Election packets, containing ballots and biographical profiles of all candidates, will be mailed to Baseball Reliquary members on April 1. To be eligible to vote, all persons must have their minimum $25.00 annual membership dues paid as of March 31.
The three new inductees will be announced in May, with the Induction Day ceremony scheduled for Sunday, July 21 in Pasadena, California. In addition to the presentation of plaques to the 2013 inductees, this year’s ceremony will honor the recipients of the 2013 Hilda Award (named in memory of Hilda Chester and acknowledging a baseball fan’s exceptional devotion to the game) and the 2013 Tony Salin Memorial Award (presented annually to an individual dedicated to the preservation of baseball history).
For additional information on the Shrine of the Eternals, contact Terry Cannon, Executive Director of the Baseball Reliquary, at P.O. Box 1850, Monrovia, CA 91017; by phone at (626) 791-7647; or by e-mail at [email protected].