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Wild, weird side of baseball

Baseball Reliquary exhibition at Burbank library features unique and bizarre memorabilia from National Pastime.

August 12, 2011|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com

BURBANK — A mask with a baseball still lodged in the face guard that was used by one-eyed umpire Max McLeary; Ron Santo's partially burned toupee; the costume head of the San Diego Chicken and a box of balls with the forged signature of Mother Teresa.

The items are only a small representation of the unique, interesting and often bizarre collection of memorabilia that is featured in the exhibition, "Not Exactly Cooperstown," that is currently on display at the Burbank Central Library. The collection will be featured in the library's entrance lobby until Sept. 29.

The exhibition is hosted by the Pasadena-based Baseball Reliquary, under the direction of executive director Terry Cannon. Cannon said his organization strives to stage displays that include memorabilia and baseball-related items that catch the attention of fans, even if they are a little off-beat like those featured in the "Not Exactly Cooperstown" collection.

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"This is what we like to collect," Cannon said about the current display that is free to the public. "What's different about the Baseball Reliquary from other sports or baseball museums is that we look to collect what I like to refer to as curiosities or oddities; things that are kind of off the beaten path of collecting. But I like items like these because many of them are eye-catching and different."

Cannon said when the Baseball Reliquary puts on a collection, it isn't just a hodgepodge of items thrown together.

"Everything that we do collect, like these items, I like to make sure it's representative of an interesting story related to the game," he said. "The artifact then becomes a kind of way of illustrating a story."

Most of the items displayed in the "Not Exactly Cooperstown" display have separate signage cards that give information and background about the memorabilia piece.

Some of the other items in the collection include:

•A humanitarian award given to Ty Cobb, one of baseball's most caustic and continuous personalties.

•Pitcher Dock Ellis' hair curlers, which he wore during pregame workouts, and Joe Pepitone's 1960s Chic model blow dryer, as part of a salute to hair.

•Memorabilia from the House of David, a talented barnstorming religious team that was one of the first integrated squads.

•A psychedelic, peace-and-love jersey worn in 2010 by the Stockton Ports for a "Salute to the Beatles Night."

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