Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, August 11, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 19



 Mountain Views News Saturday August 11, 2012 

 A Documentary by Jon Leonoudakis

“There are things in this game that are beyond magic, 
and that’s what the Baseball Reliquary is about.” 

~ Bill “Spaceman” Lee, former pitcher, Boston Red Sox 
& Montreal Expos

Baseball fan and filmmaker Jon Leonoudakis had 
a life-long love affair with America’s National 
Pastime until steroids snuffed out his torch. He 
was ready to shove 40+ years worth of baseball 
swag to the curb until he had a transformational 

 “In 2002, I went to an amazing alternative baseball 
Hall of Fame ceremony where fans could actually 
vote for candidates,” said Leonoudakis. “An 
outfit called The Baseball Reliquary staged the 
event, and was inducting ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson, 
Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych, and Minnie Minoso, 
‘The Cuban Comet.’ Minoso hung out, signed 
autographs and talked baseball with attendees. 
Awards were given out to fans, researchers and 
historians for extraordinary service. The event 
was free and offered peanuts and crackerjack 
as refreshments. I found myself surrounded by 
people who love the game with a fervor matching 
my own. Not only was I back in the fold, but my 
love for the game went another 400 miles into the 

“The Reliquary’s approach to the game is very 
different. It loves baseball hopelessly, but not 
reverentially. It’s a non-profit and has no ties 
to Major League Baseball, which allows it to 
present content without political concerns. 
The Reliquary is a peripatetic virtual museum 
without a brick and mortar home, run by people 
who are steeped in the arts and operate it as a 
grass-roots, anti-establishment affair,” says Jon.

“Its broad mission statement of ‘fostering an 
appreciation of American history and culture 
through the lens of baseball’ made it hard to 
describe to fellow baseball fans. So, I decided 
I’d spend a year in the life of the organization, 
see what makes it tick, and share the results,” 
says the documentarian. Leonoudakis’s film is 
a star-spangled journey into the heart and soul 
of baseball that can’t be quantified by numbers. 
The result of this expedition is Not Exactly 
Cooperstown, the first documentary to explore 
this eclectic, fan-based think tank founded in 

“Cooperstown is for statistics, and the Reliquary 
is for stories and the great characters of the 
game,” says producer/director Leonoudakis. “My 
documentary is an unorthodox look at America’s 
most orthodox game. The Reliquary looks at 
the human side of the game, and that means 
examining some very real flaws. The human 
factor is a big part of what makes the game so 

The filmmaker says Not Exactly Cooperstown is 
full of surprises. “This isn’t your father’s baseball 
documentary,” says Jon. “My film is a bold stew 
of Americana, folklore, sex, religion, scandal, 
fandom, poetry, sport, and art.”

Interviews with a cavalcade of experts, fans, 
free-thinkers, and non-conformists abound: 
former major league pitchers Jim Bouton (Ball 
Four) and Bill “Spaceman” Lee, the San Diego 
Chicken, filmmaker Ron Shelton (Bull Durham), 
author Arnold Hano (A Day in the Bleachers), 
journalists John Schulian and Ron Rapoport, and 
David Kipen, the former director of literature for 
the National Endowment of the Arts. 

While the Reliquary has a scholarly side, they 
embrace the irreverent as well. The film features 
a look into its fabled archive of “Curiosities 
and Wonderments,” containing such venerated 
objects as Eddie Gaedel’s athletic supporter and a 
tortilla with Walter O’Malley’s face on it.

Leonoudakis opened up his own independent 
Hollywood studio to make the film. His 
company, Evzone, developed, financed, 
produced and will ultimately distribute Not 
Exactly Cooperstown. “While I financed the 
project, I could not have done it without so many 
of my friends in the business, who donated their 
time,” says Jon. The filmmaker also cites a small 
group of blood relatives as core contributors to 
the project. Nephew Gabriel Leonoudakis was a 
major graphic art and design contributor. Wife 
Lisa helped wrangle props, wardrobe, and a 
multitude of tasks and was given the credit “Gal 
Friday.” Eldest son Matt (18) performed grip 
duties, daughter Katrina (20) did continuity and 
graphics work, and youngest child Stevie (11) has 
the only acting role in the film: an all-American 
boy opening a pack of baseball cards in 1975. 
“It’s less about nepotism and more about lack of 
funding and necessity, but you can never have 
enough Greeks involved in a production. They’re 
good problem-solvers, story-tellers, and have 
exceptional taste in wine,” according to prideful 
Greek-American Leonoudakis.

Jon Leonoudakis has been a producer since 1985, 
leading teams on a diverse range of projects 
for clients and project partners like the Disney 
Theme Parks worldwide, the United Nations, 
Disney Cruise Lines, Pixar, Mercedes-Benz, and 
Universal Studios/Hollywood. He was one of 
the producers of the internationally-acclaimed 
documentary, The Wrecking Crew, as well as 
producing and directing his previous baseball 
documentary, 5:04 p.m.: A first-hand account of 
the 1989 World Series Earthquake Game. 

Not Exactly Cooperstown is produced and 
directed by Jon Leonoudakis for non-profit/
educational purposes. The documentary will 
have its World Premiere on Sunday, August 
19 at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at the 
Pasadena Central Library, 285 E. Walnut St., 
Pasadena, California, at 2:00 p.m. The screening 
is open to the public and free of charge. 
Attendees are encouraged to arrive in their finest 
baseball regalia for the chance of a special prize. 
Refreshments will be served.

Although the screening does not begin until 2:00 
p.m., we encourage attendees to arrive by 1:30 
p.m. (when the doors to the auditorium open) 
as seating is limited and available on a first-
come, first-serve basis. Free parking is available 
in the University of Phoenix underground 
parking structure, which is located just north of 
the Pasadena Central Library on the corner of 
Garfield Avenue and Corson Street. The entrance 
to the parking structure is on Garfield.

The screening is made possible, in part, by a grant 
to the Baseball Reliquary from the Los Angeles 
County Board of Supervisors through the Los 
Angeles County Arts Commission. 

 For more information, contact Jon Leonoudakis 
at 818-886-2998 or Web 



From Arcadia’s Best

 For the second time in history, 
the Breeders’ Cup will be at the 
same venue two consecutive years 
— and once again Santa Anita 
Park will be that venue.

 The Breeders’ Cup announced 
today that the 30th Breeders’ Cup 
World Championships will be 
held at Santa Anita on Friday, November 
1 and Saturday, November 
2, 2013. The Breeders’ Cup is 
also being staged this year at Santa 
Anita on Nov. 2-3.

 The Breeders’ Cup World Championships 
is the global version of 
the Kentucky Derby, attracting the 
best horses from around the world for 15 races 
over two days, with purses totaling more than 
$25 million.

 Arcadia enjoys the influx of high-spending 
Breeders’ Cup participants and fans from as far 
away as Dubai, Asia and Europe for the weekend 
that in 2009 drew a then-record 96,496 spectators 
over the two days — 58,845 on Day Two 
November 7 and an on-track crowd of 37,651 on 
Day One Nov. 6 – and record on-track handle of 

 According to a study by Los Angeles County 
Economic Development Corporation, the Breeders’ 
Cup generated in excess of $60 million in 
economic impact in the Los Angeles area in both 
2008 and 2009 at Santa Anita, the first-ever back-
to-back runs at the same track. Both years set 
new venue records for attendance and wagering.

 “In both 2008 and 2009, it’s estimated that approximately 
$60 million a year was generated in 
terms of overall revenues, things like hotels, restaurants 
and rent-a-cars,” said Santa Anita President 
George Haines.

 “Additionally, we’ll be employing more than 
three thousand people again in 2013 and so this 
is also welcome news for everyone working in the 
racing industry here.

 “This is going to be a great two-day party for the 
L.A. area right here at Santa Anita,” said Mark 
Verge, Santa Anita C.E.O. “We want people to 
know they can come, party and gamble at the 
most beautiful racetrack in the world and it’s a 
party they’ll never forget.

 “Thanks to the efforts of our Chairman, Frank 
Stronach, Santa Anita has proven time and again 
to be a perfect venue for the Breeders’ Cup and 
we look forward to again showcasing what we believe 
is America’s premier racing facility.

 “We are elated to learn the Breeders’ Cup is coming 
here again in 2013,” said Arcadia Mayor Bob 
Harbicht. “Arcadia is proud to be the center of 
attention in the racing world when the Breeders’ 
Cup is going on and we welcome those who 
attend and the economic boost it brings to the 
community. We also see Santa Anita as an outstanding 
corporate neighbor.

 “This will also help us to attract more owners 
and more horses to California, which is a big 
priority for all of us,” said Hall of Fame trainer 
and Thoroughbred Owners of California board 
member Bob Baffert, who won the 2008 Juvenile 
and Sprint races at Santa Anita.

 Santa Anita has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World 
Championships five times — in 1986, 1993, 2003, 
and 2008-09. The next two years will bring that 
total to seven of the ten times the Breeders’ Cup 
World Championships will be held in Southern 
California over its 30-year history.

 Among the most memorable moments in Breeders’ 
Cup history was at Santa Anita in 2009 when 
fan favorite Zenyatta provided spectators with 
one of racing’s most exhilarating performances 
as she came from way back in the pack to become 
the first female to win the $5 million Breeders’ 
Cup Classic. That year’s event also attracted the 
most international starters in history with 34 
participants from outside the U.S. and Canada.

 Verge noted that beginning with the opening 
day of the Autumn meet, Santa Anita has hired 
Cedd Moses — recently voted ‘Best American 
Cocktail Bar’ and which has been an integral part 
of the revitalization of downtown L.A. — to be in 
charge of cocktail service and presentation.

 The 2013 Breeders’ Cup will be televised on the 
NBC Sports Network, and the $5 million Breeders’ 
Cup Classic will be shown live in prime-time 
on the East Coast and Midwest on NBC from 8 
p.m. – 9 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network is also 
televising this year’s Breeders’ Cup with prime-
time coverage of the Classic on NBC Nov. 3.

 “We are pleased the Breeders’ Cup has chosen 
to stay at Santa Anita for the 2013 World Championships,” 
said Mike Rogers, President of The 
Stronach Group’s Racing Division. “This underlines 
the commitment of The Stronach Group to 
present world-class racing at its venues around 
the country. Santa Anita’s back-to-back runnings 
of the Breeders’ Cup in 2008 and 2009 produced 
some of the top performances in the event’s history 
and we are looking forward to again showcasing 
the world’s greatest athletes in the entertainment 
capital of the world.”

 Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Craig Fravel 
said: “We are… looking forward to bringing racing 
fans a world-class event at one of the world’s 
greatest racing venues. We are delighted to extend 
our partnership with Santa Anita, to celebrate 
the 30th edition of our Championships in 
Southern California and for the unprecedented 
opportunity to showcase the Breeders’ Cup Classic 
in prime-time for a second consecutive year. 
Southern California and the greater Los Angeles 
community are always exceptional hosts for 
fans and horsemen alike from the event’s launch 
in 1984 and, most recently, at the 2008 and 2009 
World Championships.”

 Keith Brackpool, Chairman of the California 
Horse Racing Board, added: “We are very proud 
that California has once again been selected to 
host the Breeders’ Cup and we will take all the 
steps necessary to ensure that the Breeders’ Cup 
this November and next year at Santa Anita will 
be of the highest caliber for our racing fans and 
horsemen in our state and for our guests attending 
from around the world.”

 “The Thoroughbred Owners of California is 
happy to support the return of the Breeders’ Cup 
World Championships to California and Santa 
Anita Park,” said TOC Chairman Mike Pegram. 
“In addition to providing a much-needed boost 
to the state and local economies, the event gives 
California horsemen an opportunity to compete 
against the world’s best at one of our sport’s most 
outstanding racetracks.”

 For more information on the 2012 & 2013 Breeders’ 
Cups at Santa Anita, fans are encouraged to 
call (800) 722-3287. To order 2012 Breeders’ Cup 
tickets, call (877) 426-6948. – By Scott Hettrick


There will be hot cars and even hotter chili at Lake Avenue Church’s west parking lot from 5 to 8 p.m. 
on August 17 when the Second Annual Chili Challenge and Classic Car Night fills the lot with classic 
cars, hot rods, exotics and motorcycles, plus live music by The International Superstars of Rock, a 
kids’ bounce house, raffles, and BBQ burgers and hot dogs cooked to order.

The event, the final Lake Avenue Church Classic Car Night of the summer, will feature celebrity 
chili judges, including Lance Ito, Robin Salzer, owner of Robin’s Woodfire BBQ & Grill, and Samson

Francois, executive chef at the University Club in Pasadena.

Last year’s Chili Challenge drew a hungry crowd of more than 400, and the popular, twice-monthly 
summer Classic Car Nights helped the church reach out to the community. Bill Mead, Pastor of 
Men’s Ministries at Lake, said, “One night we were able to minister to a local family whose father and 
husband was going into the hospital soon for significant surgery.”

Everyone is invited to get their fill of chili and chillin’ classic cars. To enter the chili cook-off, contestants 
may sign up online at Admission is free. Donations will be accepted for


Lake Avenue Church is located at 393 N. Lake Avenue in Pasadena, at the corner of Lake Avenue 
and the 210 Freeway.

With memories 
of the 
2012 Olympics 
soon to 
fade faster 
than the life 
of North Korean 
who failed to 
medal, I confess 
I was disappointed 
that new, exotic sports weren’t added to 
this year’s Games. 

So who’s for spicing up future Olympics with 
some dazzling, novel events? 

Oh sure, I know golf will be featured in the 2016 
Rio Games. But they may as well add chess and 
croquet, too, and have the paramedics standing 
by when spectators collapse from boredom.

Get with the times, Olympic Committee, we’re in 
the exciting digital age now! To capture the attention 
of young, high-tech spectators, we need new 
cool events such as Speed Tweeting, The iPhone 
Toss, and Balance Beam While Texting.


Mind you, I’m not against introducing some 
new, interesting “old school” events either, such 
as Crocodile Wrestling, Peat Bog Diving, or Synchronized 
Cary Grant Impersonating. 

If you detect a touch of sarcasm along these lines, 
I suppose it’s because, as a child, I rarely succeeded 
at sports. I can only attribute my athletic failures 
to a complete lack of competitive drive whatsoever. 
That, and having the upper body strength 
of Pee-wee Herman, the lung capacity of a canary, 
and the coordination of a dung beetle. 

However, I do appreciate that some sporting skills 
can be very useful in everyday life. 

Take swimming, for example. Should you ever 
find yourself out in the Pacific hotly pursued by 
a 16 ft great white shark, being able to do the 200 
meter freestyle boat dash in under 2 minutes à la 
Michael Phelps could be the difference between 
making it back to shore for lunch, or becoming 

The same could be said of sprinting, a useful skill 
when your neighbor’s pit-bull decides it wants a 
piece of you whilst strolling to the mail box. Then 
there’s tennis, which helps to hone one’s fly swatting 
technique. Wrestling and boxing can also be 
useful pest deterrents, especially when relatives 
drop by unannounced. 

Shot putting, however, is a different story. Outside 
of the sports arena, I can’t see the immediate advantages 
of being able to hurl a 16 lb metal ball 
over 50 ft, even if your mother-in-law is marching 
up the driveway with two suitcases under each 

Heck, shot puts don’t even make convenient concealed 
weapons. Have you ever seen a “Shot Put 
Wielding Bandit Robs Local 7-Eleven” headline?

But returning to my theme of proposed new 
Olympic sports. Here are some that I might even 
try if they were added in 2016:

Stationary Mountain Biking: Much safer than 
regular mountain biking. Plus, it would offer one 
big advantage for the games in Rio - you don’t 
need a mountain, just a cardboard facsimile of the 
Brazilian Highlands in the background.

Greco-Roman Mixed Beach Twister: With the 
right teammate, I’d be willing to suffer a few minor 
dislocations if this Milton Bradley family favorite 
game ever made it from the living room to 
the Olympics.

Pommel horse whispering: I feel confident I could 
skillfully converse softly with a pommel horse 

Bullfighting: Since I wouldn’t want to injure the 
bull, I’d be wary about this event. Besides, Spain 
would have a huge advantage. So if I were to enter, 
I would have to even the playing field: the 
Spanish competitors would be required to wear 
bright red uniforms. And instead of dispatching 
the bull with swords, they would be issued with 
cattle prods. Personally, I’d be rooting for the bull 
to take the gold. This sport would also be popular 
with Olympic broadcasters, since they’d get even 
more bull into their commentary.

Human Cannonballing: “Net? I don’t need no 
stinking net!” said Blazing Brooks, former cannonballer 
from the Kahlua and Bailey Bros. Circus, 
and long-time advocate for Olympic cannonballing. 
“Just as long as I land on my head.” I 
would definitely want a net.

Rhythmic Furniture Building: We’ve all faced the 
challenge of constructing one of those $99 build-
it-yourself oak entertainment centers from K-
mart that has 500 parts to assemble and as many 
instruction steps written in Sanskrit. Anybody 
who can put one of those babies together in record 
time with, say, Bruce Springsteen rocking in 
the background, deserves a gold medal. Although, 
as usual, mine would likely end up resembling a 
deck chair.

And finally, wouldn’t Team Skydiving be an exciting 
addition to the Olympics? It requires skill, 
coordination, and concentration. But with my 
athletic background I wouldn’t attempt this one. 
Besides, in my enthusiasm for a medal, I’d probably 
forget to pull the ripcord.

A college professor by day, and freelance journalist 
by night, Thomas' features and columns have 
appeared in more than 200 magazines and newspapers, 
including the Washington Post, LA Times, 
Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, San Francisco 
Chronicle, and Christian Science Monitor. He can 
be reached at


New Olympic Sports