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Nuke LaLoosh Headed for A Different Hall

In fairness, Nuke LaLoosh never actually existed. At least he never existed under that name. But if you believe in a host of legendary tales, the man responsible for LaLoosh's character in Bull Durham -- the epic 80s minor league baseball movie that still features prominently on the career hit lists of both Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins -- is about to be enshrined in the Shrine of the Eternals.

Of course, this is a Shrine of the Eternals that is actually called the Shrine of the Eternals. That means it's not at all affiliated with the official Hall of Fame, and finds itself sanctioned instead by a group that calls itself the Baseball Reliquary, a nonprofit organization dating to 1996. The man the Reliquary is calling is a 70-year-old fella' named Steve Dalkowski, a New Britain, Conn. native who spent nine seasons in the minor league system of the Baltimore Orioles before a career-ending injury stopped his very gradual ascent while he was under the managerial tutelage of none other than Earl Weaver.

The story was first dug up by the New Britain Herald, which claims that Ron Shelton, the filmmaker behind Bull Durham, will introduce Dalkowski for the enshrinement proceedings at the Shrine of the Eternals. As for what Dalkowski did to deserve a spot there, that's a tale that belongs as much to legend as it does to his numbers.

Across nine minor league seasons, Dalkowski finished with nearly as many walks (1,354) as strikeouts (1,396). Yet he threw with such ferocious velocity that Ted Williams, when scheduled to bat against him during one minor league contest, allegedly asked out of the plate appearance, "calling Dalkowski the hardest thrower he'd ever seen."

The ceremony for Dalkowski's induction is scheduled for July 19, a week from this Sunday, with Dalkowski set to be joined by Jim Eisenreich and someone representing Roger Maris posthumously. If that seems like a strange trio to you, well, it probably should.

Then again, with an organization like the Baseball Reliquary also features an exhibition of novelty baseball cards that replace players body parts with real life items that bear some cognitive connection to their last names -- Marvin Cobb is a stalk of corn, for instance -- well, then maybe we shouldn't be so surprised after all.

By Cameron Smith  |  July 9, 2009; 2:12 PM ET
Categories:  Orioles  | Tags: Bull Durham, Hall of Fame, Nuke LaLoosh, minor league baseball  
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