Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category
Walking around my neighbourhood (Coyoacán) the other day, I was thinking about the Montreal Expos, and seeing people setting up stuff for the Day of the Dead, I put those two things together and drew an ofrenda for the teams that relocated:
Milwaukee Brewers, moved and became St. Louis Browns in 1902
Baltimore Orioles, moved and became New York Highlanders in 1903
Boston Braves, moved to Milwaukee in 1953
St. Louis Browns, moved and became Baltimore Orioles in 1954
Philadelphia Athletics, moved to Kansas City in 1955
Brooklyn Dodgers, moved to Los Angeles in 1958
New York Giants, moved to San Francisco in 1958
Washington Senators, moved and became Minnesota Twins in 1961
Milwaukee Braves, moved to Atlanta in 1966
Kansas City Athletics, moved to Oakland in 1968
Seattle Pilots, moved and became Milwaukee Brewers in 1970
Washington Senators, moved and became Texas Ranger in 1972
Montreal Expos, moved and became Washington Nationals in 2005
The inspiration for trying to tell a history of Major League Baseball came from a style of Mexican sculpture called Árbol de la Vida (Tree of Life). They are very beautiful, and should you ever visit Mexico City, I highly recommend visiting the Museo de Arte Popular and Museo Nacional de Antropología where you can see some wonderful examples. (Or you could just google it.) When I first saw a Tree of Life sculpture at the National Museum of Anthropology, I had a vague idea to do some sort of drawing about baseball history based of this style of sculpture. This, two years later, is that drawing.
What I have tried to do is have three people represent each decade. (In later decades, there are four each, and just three representing the 19th century.) I’ve also tried to represent as many franchise as I could. It would be easy to fill this with Yankee players, but I only wanted a maximum of three players per franchise. Even then there are several franchises without any players represented. And if you think about how to represent the Yankees with just three figures, for example, who would you choose? It’s a tough one. Babe Ruth has to be in there. Lou Gehrig, too. But then you have Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, etc etc. I figured that Ruth and Gehrig represented the start of that franchise’s great successes. And therefore they also covered the bases that many of their other great players would cover. The one era of Yankeedom that felt different to me is the 70s, so that’s why Billy Martin is the third Yankee.
It became more difficult in later years to represent three players per decade and represent all of the expansion teams; that would’ve meant using 14 figures from the 1960s to 2000s just making sure every team is represented. Doing so would have created a false view of each of those decades. Indeed, would you want the 1990s solely represented by players from the Diamondbacks, Rockies, Devil Rays and Marlins? Instead, and twisting things to fit in my own head, Randy Johnson is there in a Diamondbacks uniform, representing all four of the 1990s expansion teams. And even if there isn’t a player from every team, every team is referenced with another element somewhere. There are no Marlins players, for example, but I added part of the home run sculpture at Marlins Park to represent that franchise.
There are no Negro League players because this is a representation of Major League Baseball. I toyed with the idea of including a handful of players from the Negro Leagues, but in the end felt that sticking to Major League Baseball, with its pre-Jackie Robinson flaws, was a better idea.
If that wasn’t enough, I wanted it to be fun, too. And if you’re still thumping the desk that I’ve not included your favourite plater, it’s a pretty fun exercise to wrap your head around, so try and do it: three players that represent each decade, trying to cover as many franchises as possible. It would be completely possible to do this drawing again and easily fill up my three per decade rule and still miss a lot of great players.
Anyway, for want of a better word, this is art. And I am the artist, and I stand by my choices. I’ve used a fair amount of words defending myself, though, but that’s because I’m English, and didn’t grow up with baseball, and I just don’t want you the viewer to think that I haven’t put in a ton of thought. I’ve been working on and amending this drawing on and off for two years. I’m glad it’s finally finished.
There is a wee bit of guesswork going on with the uniforms of 19th century teams. The Dressed to the Nines uniform database only goes back to 1900, so I sourced as many images as possible, and chose colors from illustrations on cigarette cards for Monte Ward, King Kelly, and Old Hoss Radbourn (or contemporaneous team-mates). I’ve also had to guess at the colour of John McGraw’s cardigan because the only sources I’ve come across are black and white photos. I decided that because their uniform at the time featured dark blue and red, that the cardigan should have the same colours.
The use of text within the drawing is referencing two things. First, the idea of lovers carving initials on a tree. I have come to love baseball over the past decade, and I’m digitally carving light brown pixels onto dark brown pixels. Second, it’s a fairly blatant reference to the work of Howard Finster.
Hopefully, my drawing skills are good enough for you to recognise most of the players and stuff. But here’s a list of everything in the picture, starting at bottom left in the 1800s and snaking up the tree to the present day.
John Montgomery Ward, New York Gothams/Giants
The flag of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, representing baseball’s roots
King Kelly, Chicago White Stockings
Great Pyramid of Giza, where the Chicago White Stockings visited on their world tour in 1889
Old Hoss Radbourn, Providence Grays
Connie Mack, Philadelphia Athletics
Ty Cobb, Detroit Tigers
Honus Wagner, Pittsburgh Pirates
Wrigley Field’s win flag
The T206 Honus Wagner card
The flag of Cuba, representing the first Cuban players (Rafael Almeida and Armando Marsans) in the majors in 1911
Addie Joss, Cleveland Bronchos/Naps
The flag of the United States, representing the national anthem being introduced at games
Walter Johnson, Washington Senators
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Chicago White Sox
Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals
Eddie Grant Memorial at the Polo Grounds
John McGraw, New York Giants
The frieze from Yankee Stadium
Babe Ruth, New York Yankees
Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia Athletics
Hank Greenberg, Detroit Tigers
The flag of Mexico, representing Mel Almada, the first Mexican in the majors in 1933
Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees
Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox
The flag of Venezuela representing Alex Carrasquel, the first Venezuelan player in the majors in 1939
Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn Dodgers
A goat. You know why
The Crosley Field floodlight, the first ballpark to have lights
Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals
The flag of Puerto Rico, representing Hiram Bithorn, the first Puerto Rican in the majors in 1942
Willie Mays, New York Giants
The “Infield Back?” and “Yes” and “No” signs from the St. Louis Browns’ Grandstand Managers Day
Ernie Banks, Chicago Cubs
Warren Spahn, Milwaukee Braves
The flag of the Dominican Republic, representing Ozzie Virgil, the first Dominican in 1956
Mr. Met, New York Mets
Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles Dodgers
The flag of Japan, for Masanori Murakami, the first Japanese player in 1964
Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh Pirates
Home Run Apple from Shea Stadium
The HERE flag from Baltimore Memorial Stadium where Frank Robinson hit a home run out of the stadium
A green weenie
The flag of Canada, representing the Montreal Expos, the first non-US team in the majors
Hank Aaron, Atlanta Braves
Pete Rose, Cincinnati Reds
The Big A from Anaheim Stadium
Billy Martin, New York Yankees
Montreal’s Olympic Stadium
San Diego’s Famous Chicken
Chalet and beer mug from Milwaukee County Stadium
Nolan Ryan, Houston Astros
Short Stinks banner from RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C. unfurled by fans at the last game before the Senators were relocated to Texas by owner Bob Short
Fernando Valenzuela, Los Angeles Dodgers
Charles O. Finlay’s orange baseball
Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies
Rickey Henderson, Oakland Athletics
Bo Jackson, Kansas City Royals
Roberto Alomar, Toronto Blue Jays
A cloud from the ramps at the SkyDome
One of the purple row seats from Coors Field
Randy Johnson, Arizona Diamondbacks, with a (live) dove on his head
Anaheim Angels Rally Monkey
Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants
Pedro Martinez, Boston Red Sox
Cownose ray, from the Rays Touch Tank at Tropicana Field
Beer and hot dog, just because
The Comiskey Park pinwheels
A Marlin from the home run sculpture at Marlins Park
Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners
Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
Bugs (above Albert’s head) from game two of the 2007 ALDS at Progressive Field
A King’s Court sign from Safeco Field
Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
The text on the tree, from top to bottom:
My oh my!: Dave Niehaus
9-6-2: The Jeter flip
Mercury symbol: Mercury Mets on Turn Ahead the Clock Night
42: Jackie Robinson’s number retired league wide
He is… safe! Safe at the plate: Sean McDonough’s call of Sid Bream scoring the winning run in the 1992 NLCS
.649: Montreal Expos’ win percentage in 1994
Merci Expos: on the video screen at the Expos’ final home game
2,131: Cal Ripken passes Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played
Hits 0 LSD hits 1: Dock Ellis’ no-hitter
I don’t believe what I just saw!: Jack Buck’s call of Kirk Gibson’s home run
Three and two to Mookie Wilson: Vin Scully calling the game six of the 1986 World Series
61*: Roger Maris breaking the single season home run record
Holy Cow!: Phil Rizzuto’s call of above home run
California: baseball moves west
1/8: Eddie Gaedel’s number for the St. Louis Browns
The art of fiction is dead: Red Smith writing about Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard ‘Round the World
A million butterflies: Vin Scully calling Sandy Koufax’s perfect game
If it stays fair…: Carlton Fisk’s home run
2,130: Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played
BB and LL: Bustin’ Babes and Larrupin’ Lous, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig’s teams on their 1927 barnstorming tour
Diamond: Who’s on first?
No gambling allowed: because no gambling was allowed
But I’ve got an awful lot to live for: Lou Gehrig’s speech
Yes, kid, I’m afraid it is: what Shoeless Joe supposedly said when asked if it was true
8.17.20: Ray Chapman dies.
M.C.B.B: The Philadelphia Athletics’ $100,000 infield: Stuffy McInnis, Eddie Collins, Jack Barry and Frank Baker
Jan 28, 1901: American League founded
M.F.W: Moses Fleetwood Walker of the 1884 Toledo Blue Stockings, the first African American to play Major League baseball until Jackie Robinson
Feb 2, 1876: National League founded
Sash: word used in a telegram by Jim Devlin of the Louisville Grays to indicate that he willing to throw a game for money
Tinker to Evers to Chance: From “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon,” a poem by Franklin Pierce Adams regarding the Chicago Cubs infield turning a double play
Notes: Take Me Out To The Ball Game
And in the background: palm trees for Spring Training, and autumnal trees of the World Series and the end of the season
Prints of this drawing coming soon.
This is something I’ve been working on for two years, on and off: A fictional left-handed baseball league. The image above is just a small part of the full image, that includes drawings of team logos, ballparks, players, cigarette advertising (it’s set in the 1930s, after all) and a full schedule. See it here: http://flipflopflyin.com/flipflopflyball/sbl.html
Whenever I see this advertisement on the Facebook app on the iPad (one of the worst apps in human history, btw; truly atrocious to use), I imagine someone holding up an iPad behind David Ortiz.
The Pittsburgh Pirates won last night. Their 81st win of the season. The first time they have won 81 games since, like, forever. Here’s a big chart.
Baseball! ¡Béisbol! Current leagues and teams in Mexico. Ligas y equipos actuales en México.
It kind of blows my mind that it took my brain this long to get around to doing this. I mean, these are essentially three-dimensional Minipops. Anyway, above is Fernando Valenzuela, and below, Dennis Eckersley and Barry Bonds. More on the way.
This drawing began last September. I was watching a baseball game, some team, I can’t remember which, vs. Boston Red Sox. And, looking at the Sox’s ballpark, I got to thinking what it would be like to scale it down so it was cabin-sized. I did a quick pencil sketch of a cabin that looked nothing like Fenway Park, but wrapped around two sides of a little baseball field-shaped garden. I took a photo of the sketch, imported it into the iPad app I use for drawing, Brushes, and did a digital colour version. And then kept on drawing. The cabin stayed mostly the same throughout, but in my head, the landscape and garden changed. And, as a drawing, it was pretty much entirely drawn without reference photos. Which is rare. I used Google Images to check on the colouring of the birds and the shape of an axe in a tree stump, but apart from that, it all came out of my head. Once I’d drawn the cabin, though, it seemed kinda cold to leave it as an empty cabin, of the sort one would see on the mouth-watering Cabin Porn site. I wanted to live in my drawing. So I added other elements that I’d like were I to live there.
The eagle-eyed, or even the mole-eyed, amongst you will notice there’s a strange sense of scale, with the orange and black oriole being more or less the same size as the dog next to the picnic blanket. That, dear reader, is how I roll. That is to say, I messed up and can’t be arsed to change it.
Anyway, bigger version of the drawing here. And here’s a movie of how the drawing was drawing-ed:
Eric and I have known each other electronically for about four years. He and his pal Ted used to run a Web site called Pitchers and Poets. It was a good thing. With me also having a baseball site, we ended up exchanging emails, all three of us. I was emailing my pal Pete about baseball a lot, too, and eventually, the streams crossed and we ended up having a four way email conversation about baseball and hot dogs and jumping frogs and, once in a while, Albuquerque.
Eric and his girlfriend Janelle moved to Mexico City in October. This was the first time we had met in person. Eric is a writer. He likes baseball. He lives in the same city as me. One day, we got to chatting about the Serie del Caribe (Caribbean Series, an annual baseball tournament held between the winners of the winter leagues in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela). It’s held in one city from one of the four participating nations on a rotating basis, and this year it was Mexico’s turn, and would take place in Hermosillo, in the northern state of Sonora, about a three hour drive south of the Arizona border.
We both wanted to go. And because he writes about sports (amongst other things), and I often draw baseball-related stuff, it wasn’t a huge leap for us to come up with the idea of up pitching an idea to someone of he and I working together on a co-authored text and images thing about the series.
At the time, I’d recently done some infographics for a new Web site called Sports on Earth. So I emailed Emma Span, the editor I’d dealt with, explained our idea, and would they be interested.
They were. Hurrah. We noodled around for a while, didn’t get our shit together, and eventually started looking for flights, accommodation, and Emma got on the case regarding press credentials for us, even though the Serie del Caribe Web site clearly stated that the time for applications was over.
Hermosillo is a city of about 800,000 people the 20th largest city in the country. There only seemed to be a couple of flights from Mexico City that weren’t booked up, so they were a wee bit expensive. Accommodation proved to be an even bigger issue: we checked and checked and kept finding hotels fully booked for the whole week. We were essentially Mary and Joseph.
When we did come across a hotel with rooms, they were super expensive and only renting rooms for the whole week of the series. We were only gonna be there for four nights, but it looked we might have to stump up the cash for seven just to not end up sleeping under a cactus. With only about ten days to go, we had some good fortune: my friend Adria is from Hermosillo, and her mother was willing to rent out her spare rooms to us for the duration of our stay.
Getting press credentials seemed to be very Mexican in its organisation. I love this country, but it can be frustratingly inefficient at getting things done. Eric and I would be two of very very few gringo “journalists” at the Serie del Caribe. We were there for Sports on Earth, a site put together by USA Today and the media arm of Major League Baseball. A few days before we were due to fly, Emma mentioned that things had started to look a bit more promising. And the day before we left, she told us we should — should — have passes waiting for us at the ballpark. We got the name of a contact at the stadium to help us if needs be. Splendid.
Baseball is popular in Mexico. But only in certain parts of Mexico. Mexico City is one of the parts of the country where it is not particularly popular. We have a team in the summer league, but attendance isn’t great. And this city has three popular teams in the top flight of Mexican soccer. Very few of my friends knew that the Caribbean Series was happening in their country. At the departure gate, though, we saw baseball caps and jackets. People on our flight were going to Hermosillo, like us, to watch baseball.
A couple of hours in the sky, and we were walking through an airport where even more people were dressed in baseball garb. People stood around, waiting for luggage, waiting for rental cars, in hats and jerseys of Mexican, Venezuelan, Dominican, Puerto Rican, and American teams. We had flown from Ciudad de Fútbol to Ciudad de Béisbol.
Hermosillo may well be small compared to Mexico City, but it’s also big. Very few buildings have more than a ground floor. In fact, the only time we had to climb or descend more than a short flight of stairs was when we had to go up to the press box* at Estadio Sonora, the baseball stadium. And because of this, the city sprawls in the desert fairly significantly. It was a long taxi ride from the airport to where we were staying. A taxi ride that had the driver on his cell phone several times talking to a colleague, asking where exactly the place we were staying is.
* I’ve been in press boxes at baseball stadiums before. Once legitimately, and a few times on stadium tours. The Estadio Sonora had a press box where one would expect, up and above home plate, but because the Caribbean Series had way more press members than would be there for future games at the park (the stadium is brand new and will be the home of the local Liga Pacifico team, los Naranjeros de Hermosillo, the Hermosillo Orange Growers), it had been extended to include a long row of high tables and chairs around the top edge of that level of the stands.
The house we stayed at was lovely. Our host, Carmen, was really friendly and a great cook. And there was a terrace which was a great place to spend the mornings, drinking coffee and working on drawings while hummingbirds darted back and forth to the feeders hanging from the roof. After a chicken lunch (pretty much our only non-cow meal of our time there) we were back in a taxi heading back across to the other side of town to the ballpark.
As mentioned, this park is new. Up until the end of the Liga Pacifico season a few weeks ago, the city’s ballpark was Estadio Héctor Espino, named after a player nicknamed “The Babe Ruth of Mexico,” conveniently centrally located. Estadio Sonora is a long drive for the good people of Hermosillo. A long straight road, punctuated by temporary police checks. At the end of that long road is a statue of Héctor Espino. The only place to go from there is to take a left turn, on to the approach road to the stadium. Lots of parking lot areas, and in the distance, the brown roof of the park.
Outside the park, we began our search for the press credentials that were supposedly waiting for us. We asked at a gate, they sent us around the corner. We saw a couple of women who looked like they worked there, and asked them. They made a quick phone call, and told us to go to another gate. We chatted with someone on the other side of the gate. They didn’t have our specific passes, but, rather than being super strict or jobsworthy about things, gave us general reporteros passes; passes we used for our whole time there.
And what a lovely park it is. I’ve only been to a handful of baseball parks in Mexico, but I’ve looked at photos of a lot of the other ones, and the Estadio Sonora seems to be by far the best in the country. It’s like a nice minor league park. More or less 20,000 capacity. The roof is my favourite feature. It’s irregular, but not annoyingly wacky like Frank Gehry’s stuff. It has subtle peaks echoing the mountains that you can see from everywhere in the city.
We arrived in time for the second game of the day, Mexico vs. Venezuela. Cleverly, the Serie del Caribe schedule had Mexico playing in the evening every day. People who bought tickets got day tickets, allowing them access to the afternoon and evening games, but attendance for non-evening, non-Mexico games was tiny compared to the totally packed stadium in the evenings. And that evening, we were there for what was by far the best atmosphere I’ve ever experienced at a baseball game. Strikeouts were cheered like it was a World Series game. The people clearly loved baseball, and clearly loved being there to watch Mexico play baseball.
When I say Mexico, though, it’s not really a national team, in the way that a Mexican team would be in a soccer tournament. The winning team of the Liga Pacifico was the Yaquis de Obregón (who play in another city in Sonora, Ciudad de Obregón). They were Mexico’s representative in the Serie del Caribe. Same goes for the Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Venezuelan teams (Criollos de Caguas, Leones del Escogido, and Navegantes del Magallanes respectively). All but the Venezuelan team wore uniforms with their nation’s name on the jersey. Eric did some research and found that, for some reason, Venezuela didn’t stump up the cash for uniforms, so the Navegantes wore their own uniforms.
For most of our time there, we did the same thing with our days. We’d arrive before the first game, head straight up to the press area, and work on our drawing and writing. It was nice and cool and shaded up there, a good view of the field. Pretty much the perfect office: I could draw and watch live baseball at the same time. I very much enjoyed the experience of having a pass on a lanyard around my neck, and using it properly: working. It was good to have deadlines, to know that I had to do three drawings a day. And it was good to collaborate with Eric, too. Normally when I do work, the client tells me what to do with varying amounts of leeway. But this time, we were on our own. Our only brief was to capture the experience of the Caribbean Series. It’s a credit to Emma and Sports on Earth that they trusted us to do something that wouldn’t embarrass them. And I think we worked well together. It was nice being able to show Eric a drawing, and he’d find something to write about that fitted with it. And it was nice for Eric to say, I’m writing about such and such, you think you can find something to draw?
So after the first game, the press area would fill up with Mexican journalists, and the Wi-Fi would slow to a snail’s pace, and that was our cue to finish up our work, and get down into the park, and do the research-y part of our assignment: to experience the Caribbean Series. This is a fancy way of saying that we were gonna get a beer and hang out watching baseball. One thing we soon learned is that, despite having access to the whole park, the best place for us to experience the series, and in many ways, to experience Hermosillo, was to head straight to the bleachers, to the cheap seats. Seats in other parts of the park were numbered. And the games were sold out. We’d occasionally sit down for a while, and eventually have to move when the seats’ ticket holders turned up. In the bleachers, it was general admission. And we didn’t sit down once. The fun was to be had stood behind the back row of bleachers, where people milled around, and went to get more Tecate.
Every night, we would find ourselves suddenly chatting and laughing and drinking with strangers. People would hear us talking in English, give us a glance, catch our eyes, and off we would go. It was fantastic. The people in Hermosillo are amongst the friendliest I’ve ever experienced. We had beers bought for us. One guy in particular, grabbed my shoulder to prevent me going to buy beers, because he couldn’t have a visitor paying for his own beer. On our last night there, we met three lovely people, Jesús, his brother Luis, and his girlfriend Angela. After knowing them for about four innings of baseball, they took us for tacos, they let me get out of the car to throw up in the middle of a street, and they went out of their way to drive us home. That’s hospitality.
After having a couple of months where I’ve been generally feeling kinda shit about life, it was wonderful to have four days away from Mexico City, in this wonderland of béisbol, carne asada, and incredibly lovely people. I can’t remember a time in my life where I look at photos of myself and see a genuinely relaxed and happy person there. Hermosillo was amazing, and I can’t wait to go back for some Liga Pacifico games in the winter.
My friend Eric Nusbaum and I spent four days in Hermosillo, in the northern state of Sonora, where we watched a load of top notch baseball being played at the Serie del Caribe (Caribbean Series). Eric is a writer, I is a doodler, so we combined on five articles about our trip for Sports on Earth.