The Baseball Reliquary is a nonprofit, educational organization "dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history and to exploring the national pastime’s unparalleled creative possibilities." It was founded in 1996 in Monrovia, CA and is funded in part by a grant from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.
Since 1999, three individuals have been elected to their "Shrine of the Eternals" in each year. The Shrine 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 inductees are divided into five categories: Visionary; Controversial; Pioneering; Forgotten or Overlooked; and Incandescent or Legendary.
The Reliquary also gives out two annual awards, the "Hilda Award", named for Brooklyn Dodgers super-fan Hilda Chester honors an outstanding fan of the game, and the "Tony Salin Award", named after historian and researcher Tony Salin, honors a researcher.
The Reliquary does not have a physical location but has a traveling exhibition which tours around Southern California locations. Its collection includes some genuine artefacts, as well as artistic creations that mean to tell a deeper story about the game. The most famous of these are the "Walter O'Malley tortilla", supposedly found by a Mexican-American woman in 1981, which comments on the ambiguous relationship between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the local Mexican American community, as well as on the 1990s fad of paraidolia; and the "Mother Theresa Baseballs", a crate of baseballs bearing the fake autograph of the Albanian holy woman, which serve as a commentary on the issue of the merchandising of memorabilia. The collection also includes paintings by Ben Sakoguchi, done in the style of old-time California orange crates, which illustrate some of the "eternals" and other great cultural moments involving baseball.
Shrine of the Eternals
- Don Malcolm: "Post-Cooperstown Post Modernism: The Baseball Reliquary and the Future of Nostalgia", in Jean Hastings Ardell and Andy McCue, ed.: Endless Seasons: Baseball in Southern California, The National Pastime, SABR, Number 41, 2011, pp. 14-18.