Malcolm: Year 20 is a dangling sweet spot for Baseball Reliquary

From SABR member Don Malcolm at The Hardball Times on July 20, 2018, with mention of SABR member Terry Cannon:

As crazy as the 1970s were to live through (and some readers—young and old— will have to take that on faith), those past times now seem placid in comparison to our current moment. For baseball, the “timeless” sport, there is often an inevitable (and uneasy) compartmentalization of history, the type of telescoping millennials and boomers alike are grappling with in a time of unique tumult. On the eve of its twentieth annual induction ceremony, the Baseball Reliquary—perhaps moreso than other organizations that dispense public judgments concerning baseball’s relationship to American history—finds itself in a contemplative mood.

Until recent political events, the Reliquary—conceived as an “art project” that grew beyond itself once it created a quirky alternative to the Hall of Fame in 1999—had always found sure footing in its own “dialectic of low-key irreverence.” From its inception, the Reliquary has defined itself as a cultural institution, dedicated to “exploring the national pastime’s unparalleled creative possibilities.” This allowed for an encompassing synthesis of baseball and American social history, as exemplified by artistic kindred spirit Ben Sakoguchi, whose colorful and often incendiary “orange crate” paintings tied the Reliquary to a different definition of “baseball immortality.”

They call it the Shrine of the Eternals, and this year’s troika of inductees—a Vietnam/Watergate electoral slate of Tommy John, Rusty Staub and Nancy Faust—mark an unusual shift for the Reliquary voters, who seem to be taking a breath before resuming with a more overtly progressive induction agenda.

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Originally published: July 20, 2018. Last Updated: July 20, 2018.