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Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

July 6, 2009 at 11:02 AM

Who should be in the Mariners’ “Shrine of the Eternals”?

You may or may not be familiar with “The Shrine of the Eternals,” a cool alternative to the Baseball Hall of Fame that began in 1999 to honor baseball immortals who qualify in ways measured beyond stats.

You won’t find Babe Ruth in the Shrine of the Eternals, but you will find Jim Abbott, Mark Fidrych, Jim Bouton, Bill James and Ila Borders, along with Dick Allen, Emmett Ashford, Moe Berg and Curt Flood.

You’ll find a few people that many believe SHOULD be honored in Cooperstown, such as Marvin Miller, Minnie Minoso and Buck O’Neil.

And there is a trio of actual Hall of Famers — Yogi Berra, Roberto Clemente and Josh Gibson.

Mainly, though, it’s a quirky group of people who were pioneers, flakes and visionaries, selected by an organization called The Baseball Reliquary. Their web site explains their mission and this Los Angeles Times article gives some background. Here’s what the Baseball Reliquary web site says about the “Shrine of the Eternals:”

It is believed that the election of individuals on merits other than statistics and playing ability will offer the opportunity for a deeper understanding and appreciation of baseball than has heretofore been provided by “Halls of Fame” in the more traditional and conservative institutions.

Criteria for election shall be: the distinctiveness of play (good or bad); the uniqueness of character and personality; and the imprint that the individual has made on the baseball landscape. Electees, both on and off the diamond, shall have been responsible for developing baseball in one or more of the following ways: through athletic and/or business achievements; in terms of its larger cultural and sociological impact as a mass entertainment; and as an arena for the human imagination.

I post this now because the 2009 class has recently been selected and will be inducted on July 19 in Pasadena. The inductees are Steve Dalkowski, legendary as a wild flame thrower, supposedly the hardest thrower of all-time but never making it to the majors. Dalkowski struck out nearly 1,400 in 995 innings in the minors, but walked 1,354; Roger Maris, whose 61 homers in 1961 have gained a new appreciation in the steroids era; and Jim Eisenreich, who conquered Tourette’s Syndrome to have a productive career.

Since reading about this organization, I’ve been pondering who would comprise the Mariners’ Shrine of the Eternals. As fate would have it, as I was preparing this post today, an e-mail arrived that linked to a fun article from Bleacher Report about “The 11 Most Randomly Awesome Seattle Mariners of All-Time.”

That list is close to the sensibility I’m striving for here, but not quite. Those were endearing players, but I’m looking for guys that made a deeper impact. Actually, Joey Cora was on my list; Jacobsen is close, but he didn’t stick around quite long enough, I don’t think. Aw, what the heck. Let’s put him on it — I get more calls asking “Whatever Happened to Bucky Jacobsen?” than any other player, so obviously he struck a chord.

Others I would consider for the Mariners’ Shrine of Eternals:

  • Lenny Randle, for getting on his knees and blowing that bunt foul;

  • Jay Buhner, for being an unforgettably colorful character along with being one of the better players in Mariners’ history;

  • Josias Manzanillo, for taking a line drive where no man should ever, cupless — hit by Manny Ramirez, no less — and running off the field under his own power. But only after throwing out Jim Thome at the plate. The damage: a ruptured testicle. Ouch.

    .

  • Bill Caudill, for being the first great flake in Mariners’ history, and a pretty good reliever, to boot.

  • Robert Ruvkun, AKA The Bad Dancer;

  • The Mariner Moose, for no other reason than nearly running down Coco Crisp;

  • Mario Mendoza, a Mariner in 1979-80 whose very name has became the embodiment of mediocrity.

  • Ron Wright, the most singularly unsuccessful hitter in history. In his lone major-league game for the M’s in 2002, Wright accounted for six outs — hitting into a triple play, a double play and striking out.

    Any other suggestions? Remember, we’re not going for numbers here, but rather a unique imprint on the team, and on baseball. I just know I forgot some worthy people.

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