I fancy myself a baseball “artist” but I am a tiny speck on a giant, awesome tradition of depicting the game in all kinds of ways. Baseball art has evolved from cigarette cards to so much more, but the best baseball artists have retained a pure love-of-the-game and it shines through their work. These ladies and dudes intimidate and inspire me every day!
Texan-turned-Brooklynite Paul Windle does illustrations for all kinds of publications, including Grantland and The Classical, but my favorite project of his is obviously his Mid-70s Baseball Dudes. These guys are off the hook.
Amelie Mancini’s Left Field Cards are sold in letter-pressed, themed sets. She is a french woman who developed a love for the game and who imbues these little cards with an over-sized amount of wit and charm. There are two sets now: freakish injuries and food-related monikers. I heard a rumor that facial hair is next!
Gary Joseph Cieradkowski’s Infinite Baseball Card Set is another card-related project that deserves your immediate attention. Cieradkowski’s work is touched with imaginative magic and is bittersweet and beautiful — just like the game itself.
The “sports painter” Dave Choate manages to stand perfectly balanced on the tightrope between realism and emotion. I could say a lot of other stuff but it is most perfectly summed up with: he’s really good.
Mr. Will Johnson is the incredibly talented front-man of Centro-Matic, and is also a baseball painter. His work is earnest and truly takes my breath away. Some friends had his painting of Willie Mays hanging in their living room and I used to sit and stare it while an actual, live baseball game was being played on TV just a few yards away.
I’m an admirer of Paul Lempa‘s paintings, which are realistic but still unique and immediately identifiable as his own. He also does some cool painted baseballs.
If you guys haven’t already read Wilfred Santiago‘s graphic novel about Roberto Clemente, I implore you to go get it from your local bookstore and tear into immediately. You will cry and you will love.
Speaking of books, I also endorse Kadir Nelson‘s We Are The Ship, ostensibly a children’s book — but really more of a beautiful art tome and historical document. Still, I recommend it as a gift for all the kids in your life (you could always give it to Eno’s kid if you don’t have any children around).
Peter Chen’s Jumbotron Series is one of my new favorites. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best.