Masanori “Mashi” Murakami pitched for the San Francisco Giants in the mid-1960s.
MONROVIA — The Baseball Reliquary, Inc. has announced its list of 50 eligible candidates for the 2018 election of the Shrine of the Eternals, the membership organization’s equivalent to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
This year marks the 20th 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.
Among the eligible candidates for 2018, 10 appear on the Shrine of the Eternals ballot for the first time, including Masanori “Mashi” Murakami (b.1944), the first Japanese-born player in MLB history, who debuted with the San Francisco Giants at the age of 20 in 1964.
During the previous year, Murakami pitched the grand total of two innings with the Nankai Hawks of the Japan Pacific League. Snatched up by the Giants, perennial pennant contenders during the 1960s, the young lefty was called up late in the 1964 season and used sparingly in relief.
As the Giants battled the Dodgers for NL supremacy in 1965, Murakami appeared in 45 games, all but one as a reliever, finishing the season with a promising 4-1 record, 8 saves, 3.75 ERA, and more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings.
In a reversal of the usual path to MLB by Japanese and Korean players, Murakami returned to Japan in 1966 and pitched the remainder of his long career with Nankai, the Hanshin Tigers, and Nippon Ham Fighters until he retired at the age of 38 in 1982.
Also on the list of new and returning candidates are Kurt Bevacqua (b. 1947), Jim Creighton (1841-1862), Tommy John (b. 1943), Adolfo Phillips (b. 1941), Lenny Randle (b. 1949), Doris Sams (1927-2012), Janet Marie Smith (b. 1957), George Stovey (1866-1936), Jim Thorpe (1887-1953), Mike Veeck (b. 1951), and Bill White (b. 1934).
The 57 individuals previously elected to the Shrine of the Eternals include Kenichi Zenimura (1900-1968), known as “the Father of Japanese American Baseball,” who excelled as a player and manager in the prewar Japanese American leagues, organized barnstorming tours of Japan that included Babe Ruth and the Negro League’s Philadelphia Royal Giants, and built a baseball field at the Gila River camp in Arizona during World War II.
Also elected: Jim Abbott, Dick Allen, Roger Angell, Emmett Ashford, Moe Berg, Sy Berger, Yogi Berra, Steve Bilko, Ila Borders, Jim Bouton, Jim Brosnan, Charlie Brown, Bill Buckner, Glenn Burke, Roberto Clemente, Steve Dalkowski, Dizzy Dean, Rod Dedeaux, Jim Eisenreich, Dock Ellis, Eddie Feigner, Mark Fidrych, Curt Flood, Ted Giannoulas, Josh Gibson, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, Pete Gray, Arnold Hano, William “Dummy” Hoy, Bo Jackson, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Bill James, Dr. Frank Jobe, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Roger Maris, Marvin Miller, Minnie Minoso, Manny Mota, Don Newcombe, Lefty O’Doul, Buck O’Neil, Satchel Paige, Jimmy Piersall, Pam Postema, Jackie Robinson, Rachel Robinson, Lester Rodney, Pete Rose, Vin Scully, Casey Stengel, Luis Tiant, Bob Uecker, Fernando Valenzuela, Bill Veeck, Jr., Maury Wills, Don Zimmer.
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 annual ballot is composed of individuals – from the obscure to the well-known – who have altered the baseball world in ways that supersede statistics.
On a procedural level, the Shrine of the Eternals differs significantly from the Baseball Hall of Fame in the manner by which electees are chosen. 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. 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.
Election packets, containing ballots and biographical profiles of all candidates, will be mailed to Baseball Reliquary members on April 2. To be eligible to vote, all persons must have their minimum $25 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 15. In addition to the presentation of plaques to the 2018 inductees, this year’s ceremony will honor the recipients of the 2018 Hilda Award (named in memory of Hilda Chester and acknowledging a baseball fan’s exceptional devotion to the game) and the 2018 Tony Salin Memorial Award (presented annually to an individual dedicated to the preservation of baseball history).