New Hall of Fame plaque sculptor Tom Tsuchiya to debut in 2016

They are the eternal embodiment of excellence, the physical definition of a Hall of Famer.

And starting this year, the bronze plaques in the National Baseball Hall of Fame have a new face behind them.

Matthews Architectural Products, the Pittsburgh, Pa.-based foundry which has produced the Hall of Fame plaques for more than 30 years, has named Tom Tsuchiya, a current collaborator and Cincinnati-based artist, as its new sculptor for the plaques produced for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Tsuchiya will succeed artist Mindy Ellis, who is stepping down after producing 76 sculpted likenesses for the Hall of Fame.

Tsuchiya's first assignment for Matthews for work related to the Museum is to sculpt the likenesses of the Induction Class of 2016: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza.

Sculpting for the Cincinnati Reds since 2003, Tsuchiya’s previous work includes eight life-size bronze statues that were commissioned by the Reds to honor their greatest players.

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“This project is especially exciting from a personal perspective,” said Tsuchiya, who grew up minutes away from Ken Griffey Jr. in a neighboring Cincinnati suburb. “In 2002, I met him on the field before a game, and I remember being in awe of his presence. It’s pretty amazing that he will be one of the first likenesses that I will sculpt for the Hall of Fame.”

Griffey and Piazza were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 6, 2016, becoming the 311th and 312th members. Both players’ plaques will be unveiled at the July 24 Induction Ceremony in Cooperstown.

Since the first class of Hall of Famers was elected in 1936, the Hall of Fame’s bronze plaques have represented the game’s legends in Cooperstown. Adorning the oak-lined walls of the Museum’s Plaque Gallery, the plaques provide an artistic representation of the Hall of Famer along with about 90 words of text describing their career.

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