Baseball Inspires Art
If baseball is an art as opposed to a science, then it’s no wonder the art of baseball can be found in Cooperstown.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s collection includes more than 1,700 works of art that help to tell the story of the Game’s historical and cultural relevance. Artwork in the Museum collection includes paintings, sculptures, watercolors, drawings, prints, ceramics, fibers, photographs and glass, along with mixed and multimedia.
Numerous media are utilized and many well-known players from the 19th century to the present day are depicted, along with representations of ballparks, equipment and play on the field.
The following pieces represent some all-time favorites you will not want to miss:
Game Called Because of Rain (Tough Call) – Norman Rockwell, 1949
In one of Rockwell’s best-known baseball images, umpires Larry Goetz, Beans Reardon and Lou Jorda assess whether to stop a game due to the rain. As the umpires make their decision, Brooklyn coach Clyde Sukeforth and Pirates skipper Billy Meyer have their own disagreement about whether to proceed.
Tom Seaver – Andy Warhol, 1977
Andy Warhol exemplified the 1960s and '70s Pop Art movement, a reaction to traditional fine art that celebrated symbols of popular culture, from soup cans to screen stars and ballplayers. To portray these popular icons, Warhol often used familiar mass media techniques, such as screen printing.
Safe – Jared French, 1937
Jared French takes artistic license with the Polo Grounds and its famous geographic feature, Coogan’s Bluff. To provide additional visual appeal to the background, French moved the bluff to the outfield from its actual location behind the grandstand.
Mine Baseball – Mervin Jules, 1937
When Mervin Jules first exhibited the painting, Time magazine praised his use of “restrained luminous color.” According to Jules: “I was collecting studies among the bootleg mines in western Pennsylvania and saw a group of miners on a slag field playing baseball late in the day. They cast a long shadow and it all fascinated me.”
Casey at the Bat – Robert Heindel, c. 1975
Robert Heindel fashioned a successful career as a commercial illustrator and a fine artist even though his only training was through a correspondence school. In the painting, Heindel represents the celebrated Casey, anti-hero of the 19th-century poem “Casey at the Bat,” as he famously strikes out.
Babe Ruth – Ross R. Rossin, 2012
Born Rossen Raytchev Raykov in Bulgaria, the artist better known as Rossin is acclaimed for his large-scale, photorealistic portraits. His meticulously detailed works have led to commissions from U.S. presidents and other prominent figures in politics, business and entertainment. Rossin painted Babe Ruth, one of the most recognizable icons of American culture.
The Hall of Famer – LeRoy Neiman, 1996
According to LeRoy Neiman, “For an artist, watching Willie Mays hit a baseball is an experience far more overpowering than painting a beautiful woman or leading political figure.” Neiman conveys that sentiment with an idealized Hall of Famer.
Christy Mathewson – Gertrude Boyle Kanno, 1922
In choosing Christy Mathewson to depict in bronze, Gertrude Boyle Kanno compared him to the Greek athletes of antiquity. “A baseball player”, she noted, “is every bit as picturesque and dramatic a figure as a discus thrower. What we call classic now was for the Athenians progressive, modern art.”