Tony Oliva inducted into The Hall of Very Good

July 22, 2014

The Hall of Very Good™ is proud to open its proverbial doors to three new members…Boston Red Sox fan favorite Luis Tiant, Minnesota Twins legend Tony Oliva and, for the first time, The Hall’s inaugural celebrity inductee, The San Diego Chicken.

“Thank you to The Hall of Very Good™ for inducting me into the class of 2014 alongside one of my best friends Tony Oliva and the always crazy San Diego Chicken,” Tiant said upon learning of his induction.

Tiant, who recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of his big league debut, spent 19 years in the Majors with six different teams. He had, arguably, his best season in 1968, when he won 21 games and led the American League with a 1.60 ERA. A member of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame, “El Tiante’ would notch 20 or more victories three times with the team.

The Cuban-born Tiant would finish his career with a 229-172 record and an impressive 3.30 ERA. Following his playing days, he served as the head coach for the baseball team at the Savannah College of Art and Design from 1998 to 2001.

“Simply stated, Luis Tiant should be in Cooperstown,” Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy said.

Long before the baseball knew the name Kirby Puckett, Minnesota fans considered Tony Oliva “Mr. Twin”…and it’s possible many might still. Oliva spent his entire 15-year career with Minnesota and finished with a .304 career batting average and three batting titles. Eight straight years (1964-1971), the 1964 American League Rookie of the Year was named an All-Star.

In 1991, the Twins honored Oliva by retiring his number. Twenty years later, they unveiled a statue outside Target Field.

“I feel great being inducted with this group!” Oliva said after being told he’d be inducted alongside fellow Cuban Tiant.

Joining Tiant and Oliva is The Hall’s first celebrity inductee…The San Diego Chicken.

The legend of The Chicken began 40 years ago when Ted Giannoulas was hired to put on the costume for what was supposed to be a one week promotional gimmick at the San Diego Zoo. Five years later, he was “hatched” in front of 47,000 fans at Jack Murphy Stadium.

The rest is history.

“I can remember that The San Diego Chicken was like the 26th man on our roster as the ‘Head Rooster’,” former San Diego Padres pitcher John D’Acquisto said. He kept us loose and was always high energy. We enjoyed The Chicken probably more than the fans or at least as much as the fans.”

It should be noted that Giannoulas has never missed a scheduled event as The San Diego Chicken.

Luis Tiant, Tony Oliva and The San Diego Chicken join 2012 inductee Tommy John and 2013 inductees Dale Murphy and Steve Blass.

“I’ve never met Tony or Steve, but I do know that Tommy, Dale and Luis were three players that could laugh easily,” Giannoulis added. “Not only were they stars of their day, but class acts all around who were born with the humor gene.”

Wednesday, The Hall of Very Good™ will also be awarding the inaugural Glenn Burke Memorial Courage Award.

From 1976-1979, Burke played parts of four seasons in the Majors, splitting time between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A’s. But as impressive as his combination of power and speed was, it was his courage off the field that made headlines. In 1982, the former outfielder came out as homosexual, thus ending any real chance he had at possibility making any sort of comeback.

Burke was found to have AIDS in 1994. Less than a year later, he was dead.

“As Glenn’s biographer and friend, I believe the honor of a Courage Award being bestowed in his name is most appropriate,” author Erik Sherman said. “Glenn was truly the first athlete in the four professional sports to be openly gay and he ended up paying the ultimate price because of it—his baseball career. He died like he played the game—with dignity and grace.”

The Glenn Burke Memorial Courage Award will be awarded to a person who has made a significant impact on the game of baseball or has overcome adversity to succeed on the field.

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