Published : Tuesday, June 11, 2013 | 12:22 PM
The Board of Directors of the Baseball Reliquary, Inc., a Southern California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history, is pleased to announce the 2013 recipients of the Hilda Award and the Tony Salin Memorial Award. Emma Amaya, a Dodger fan extraordinaire who has been known to dress up as Hilda Chester on occasion, will receive the 2013 Hilda Award. Steve Bandura, a recreation director and baseball coach in Philadelphia who organized a cross-country barnstorming trip for his inner-city little league team in tribute to the Negro Leagues, will receive the 2013 Tony Salin Memorial Award. Both awards will be formally presented at the Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day on Sunday, July 21, 2013, beginning at 2:00 p.m., at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, Pasadena, California. The festivities will include the induction of the 2013 class of electees to the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals: Manny Mota, Lefty O’Doul, and Eddie Feigner.
Established in 2001 in memory of Hilda Chester, the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers fan, the Hilda Award recognizes distinguished service to the game by a baseball fan. To Baseball Reliquarians, the award is comparable to the Oscar or Emmy: it acknowledges the devotion and passion of baseball fans, and the many ways in which they exhibit their love affair with the national pastime. The 2013 Hilda recipient, Emma Amaya, was born in Honduras and arrived in California when she was 13. She started avidly following the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1979, becoming a season ticket holder in 1981. She fondly recalls experiencing “Fernandomania” and seeing the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the 1981 World Series. After a brief disenchantment with the game in the wake of the 1994-95 baseball strike, Amaya has come back like gangbusters, attending most Dodger home games in recent years. During the 2012 season, for instance, Amaya went to every Dodger home game with the exception of four that she missed while attending the national convention of the Society for American Baseball Research in Minnesota. What’s really challenging is that she has been able to attend all of these games while maintaining a full-time job as a senior programmer for a manufacturing company.
Amaya is well-known by many fellow fans and employees at Dodger Stadium, in addition to a number of current and former Dodger players. Even broadcaster Vin Scully is well aware of her enthusiasm for the team. For Opening Day of the 2010 season, Amaya dressed up as Hilda Chester, and she can occasionally be seen underneath the press box or at the top deck at Dodger Stadium before the game yelling, “Vin Scully We Love you,” the same as Hilda used to do from her perch in the bleachers at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. And when Scully hears her, he stands and waves.
A longtime Reliquarian and avid reader and collector of baseball books, Amaya also has her own Dodger blog, crzblue.mlblog.com, where she shares her addiction to the Dodgers and baseball, and her love of Dodger Stadium, which she proudly refers to as “Our Lady of Chavez Ravine.” On her selection as the 2013 Hilda recipient, Amaya remarked, “I am thrilled and humbled that the Baseball Reliquary has chosen me to receive such an honor. I still can’t believe it!”
Established in 2002 to recognize individuals for their commitment to the preservation of baseball history, the Tony Salin Memorial Award is named in honor of the baseball historian, author, and Reliquarian who passed away in 2001. The 2013 Salin Award recipient, Steve Bandura, is the recreation director at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center in South Philadelphia, where he coaches the Anderson Monarchs little league baseball team. In 2012, in honor of the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color line, Bandura rented a 1947 non-air conditioned, bathroom-less tour bus, and took the team, comprised of fifteen 10- and 11-year-olds, on a 22-day, 4,000-mile barnstorming tour in the tradition of the old Negro League teams. The once-in-a-lifetime trip began with a visit to Jackie Robinson’s gravesite in Brooklyn, and included stops in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City, and other cities. Along the way, the Monarchs played 17 games against local little league teams, and the youngsters got to visit historic baseball sites, meet surviving players from the Negro Leagues, and learn much about the legacy of African American baseball in the years before the game’s integration. This was actually the second barnstorming tour that Bandura had organized for the Anderson Recreation Center; the first was in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier.
On receiving the 2013 Salin Award, Bandura, a Philadelphia native, commented, “I am truly honored to be selected to receive this prestigious award. I am extremely fortunate to be in a position where I’m able to dedicate my life to connecting baseball’s past with its future. The credit, however, belongs more to the Anderson Monarchs players. They are the true ambassadors who represent and carry on the legacies of Jackie Robinson and the great Negro League players. They are solely responsible for shattering stereotypes and breaking down barriers wherever they compete. They show the world what can be accomplished when inner city kids are given opportunities to succeed. I just try to provide them with the opportunities.”