Terry Cannon: Pasadena’s Own Impresario and Archivist

Black and white photo of q group of guys at a softball game

A photo from my softball days: Terry Cannon is on the extreme left. I’m in the back with the X on my shirt (Photo courtesy of Garrett Rowlan)
(L-R) Terry Cannon, unknown, Tom Blum, unknown, Paul Logan (Dukes T-shirt), unknown, Chuck Lacey, Jeff Runyon (deceased), unknown, Chris Harvell, Garrett Rowlan (X t-shirt), Bill Brummel, and Jim Leavitt. Larry Goren is in front (he probably took the picture with a timer), Jo Anne…

Terry Cannon, who died at 66 on August 1, was producing a magazine in the early 1980s called Skinned Knuckles about classic car restoration—but that was not his calling. Baseball was.

By Garrett Rowlan

I met Terry back then on a South Pasadena softball field. He created the Baseball Reliquary in the 1990’s and then, just a few years ago, the Baseball Institute at Whitter College.  That is part of his legacy. Books, binders, files, and so forth will be housed on the third floor of the College library, and the Reliquary will be taken over by the College. Terry’s Mexican American History Project is now at Cal State San Bernardino.

Terry had a unique combination of wit and scholarship that blended seamlessly in him, and he had a variety of interests. I can recall hearing selections from his (since sold) vast collection of jazz albums which would have been the envy of any archivist.  He commissioned the music for Stealin’ Home, a jazz concert honoring Jackie Robinson, which played at many locations, including PCC on September 29, 2019, and is now on CD.

Of course, as founder of the Pasadena Filmforum (now the Los Angeles Filmforum) in 1975, Terry proved himself to be an innovator in another field. I never did get to see Terry’s own mash-up, Films Found in a Box, but I recall going with Terry, his wife Mary, and the artist Michael Guccione to the post-industrial section of Los Angeles to see Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, by Todd Haynes; Todd later went on to make major Hollywood films. I also recall seeing From the Pole to the Equator, by the Italian filmmakers Yervant Gianikian and Angela Rocco Lucchi, hand-tinted silent film footage with an eerie soundtrack.  I still have that on cassette. These are just two of the notable films that I would not have seen if I had not known Terry.

In addition to Skinned Knuckles, Terry also produced magazines called Gosh and Follies. According to Mary Cannon, copies of these are now on their way to the Smithsonian.

Terry produced his own unique brand of baseball cards. I still have the 1992 Fourth Annual High School Baseball Prospect collection produced by his company, Little Sun.  That collection includes the card of a rangy shortstop from Central High School in Kalamazoo, MI, named Derek Jeter. I wonder whatever happened to him.

Diagnosed with cancer two years ago, Terry bore his malady with a courage worthy of the most steadfast stoic. At the Allendale Branch of the Pasadena Public Library, Terry introduced one of the films that he had (alas) intended to be part of an ongoing series and he made mention of his “health problems.”  It was one of the rare times he referred to the disease that would kill him.

Especially toward the end, Terry suffered from the ravages of his malady. I was told that in the last 32 hours of his life he was blessedly pain free. As he drifted in the final minutes before his death, Mary held his hand and told him, “You gotta be getting on–Jim Bouton and Sun Ra are waiting.” At the mention of these two iconoclastic legends, the baseball pitcher and the jazz musician, Terry responded with a small smile from the depths of his inward journey.  Mary said the moment of his passing was “amazing.”

Perhaps Terry was not a genius in the fields of theory or computation, but there was a kind of genius in his innovations and in the way he engaged with the places where he was employed, including movies and Christmas poetry readings at the Allendale Branch Library and transforming the Alhambra High School library for an evening 60’s party. Terry was always doing things like that.

It is sad and strange to think of the world without Terry in it. And yet, who knows, maybe he is in heaven with Jim Bouton and Sun Ra, among others.  If he is, I am sure he is on his way to making heaven a better place too.

> Did we get the names correct?

Dear readers, if you happen to recognize any of the individuals in the photo above, please send us their names in the comment section below.

 

[This article has been updated to include the correct names of Italian filmmakers Yervant Gianikian and Angela Rocco Lucchi. August 4, 2020. 8:00pm]

Garrett Rowlan
5 comments to “Terry Cannon: Pasadena’s Own Impresario and Archivist”
  1. Twenty years removed from 350+ memorable softball games in South Pas, I was startled by the news in the N.Y. Times’ fine article that called Terry a “puckish historian”. Rest in peace.

    (That appears to be me in the photo immediately to the right of Bill Brummel, a.k.a. “Mr. Shortstop”.)

    Jim Leavitt

  2. Most of the information is correct, but the Italian filmmakers are: Yervant Gianikian and Angela Rocco Lucchi. Sorry I like to get the correct names.

  3. Such a loss. Those Sunday softball games were my “church” for at least 10 years. The Shrine of the Eternals has its next inductee. God bless, Terry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *