Wednesday, June 5, 2013

HOF Sketch Card Project: Ernie Banks

Nicknamed "Mr. Cub", the hugely popular Ernie Banks played  shortstop and first base for the Chicago Cubs over 19 seasons. Originally signing with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League in 1950, Banks would break into the Majors for the Cubs in 1953. He would go on to become the first shortstop to win the National League MVP award in consecutive seasons. Finishing his career with a whopping 512 homers, Banks would be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year on the ballot.

I created this sketch card in December 2012.

10 Random Facts about Ernie Banks
  • When Banks broke into the Majors in 1950, he became the Cubs' first African American player.
  •  In 1955, he set the record for grand slams in a single season with 5, a record that stood for over thirty years.
  • Banks' career 277 homers as a shortstop were the most ever recorded until Cal Ripken Jr. eventually surpassed this mark.
  • Banks holds Cubs records for games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421), extra-base hits (1,009), and total bases (4,706).
  • On May 8, 1973, Cubs manager Whitey Lockman was ejected in the 11th inning of a game against the San Diego Padres. A member of the team's coaching staff, Banks filled in as manager for the remainder of the game, which the Cubs won 3–2 in 12 innings. Thus, he was technically, if not officially, MLB's first black manager, predating Frank Robinson's hiring by almost two years.
  • Banks was known for his catchphrase of, "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame... Let's play two!", expressing his wish to play a doubleheader every day out of his pure love for the game of baseball, especially in his self-described "friendly confines of Wrigley Field."
  • In 1982, his uniform number 14 became the first to be retired by the Cubs.  
  • On March 31, 2008, a statue of Banks was unveiled outside Wrigley Field. Upon its unveiling, the base of the statue was revealed to contain a typographical error, reading "Lets play two" rather than the grammatically correct "Let's play two". Two days later, sculptor Lou Cella came down to the ballpark early in the morning and carved the apostrophe.
  • During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Banks operated the Ernie Banks Ford car dealership on Stony Island Avenue in Chicago.
  • In 2008, Banks released a charity wine called Ernie Banks 512 Chardonnay, a nod to his 512 career home runs, with all of his proceeds donated to his foundation, the Live Above & Beyond Foundation.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

HOF Sketch Card Project: Cal Ripken, Jr.

One of the most popular players to ever don a Major League uniform, Cal Ripken, Jr. starred at shortstop and third base for the Baltimore Orioles during a career that spanned from 1981 until 2001. Ripken is perhaps best known for breaking Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played, a record that had stood for 56 years and many deemed unbreakable. Ripken surpassed the mark on September 6, 1995 by playing his 2,131st consecutive game, which fans later voted the "Most Memorable Moment" in MLB history. A 19-time All-Star who won the American League MVP award in 1983 and 1991, Ripken totaled 3,184 hits, 431 home runs, and 1,695 RBI during his career. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 - his first year of eligibility - with the third-highest voting percentage (98.53%) in history.

I created this sketch card in December 2012.

10 random facts about Cal Ripken, Jr:
  • As a member of the Rochester Red Wings in 1981, Ripken played in the longest professional baseball game in history, starting at third base and playing all 33 innings against the Pawtuckett Red Sox in a game that took parts of 3 days to complete. 
  • Ripken began his consecutive games streak on May 30, 1982, and it continued until September 20, 1998 - ending at 2,632 straight games.
  •  His father, Cal Sr., managed him in 1987 when he was named skipper of the Orioles, and Cal played alongside his brother Billy during the season as well.
  • His 1991 season is the fourth-greatest in baseball history (second among non-pitchers) as measured by WARP3 at 17.0 wins, bested only by Walter Johnson's 1913 (18.1 wins), Babe Ruth's 1923 (18 wins), and Amos Rusie's 1894 season (17.6 wins).
  • In 1991, Ripken became the first player to win the All Star Game Home Run Derby and All-Star Game MVP award in the same year.
  • His 1991 MVP win made him the first American League player to win the award while playing for a team with a losing record.
  • He joined the 3,000-Hit Club on April 15, 2000, singling off pitcher Hector Carrasco.
  • Ripken played in his final All-Star game in 2001, shortly after he made it known that it would be his final season. During the game, he hit a home run off Chan Ho Park and was subsequently named the game's MVP after helping the American League defeat the National League.
  • The Orioles retired his uniform #8 in 2001.
  • Between 2001 and 2004, inclusive, Ripken served as commissioner of the White House Tee Ball Initiative of President George W. Bush, in which capacity he worked to promote the value of teamwork amongst players and volunteership amongst the public and helped to teach tee ball fundamentals to teams of children at the White House.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Albert Pujols Sketch Card

Subject: Baseball star Albert Pujols
Medium: Pen & ink stippling
Completed: January 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Television Interview with WDIO-TV in Duluth, MN Regarding Leaf Trading Cards

Here is a television interview I did with WDIO-TV (CBS affiliate) in Duluth, MN in late March that talks about my involvement in Leaf Trading Cards' Best of Hockey release. Several of my sketch cards were featured in the newscast, and it was awesome to have my artwork highlighted by a media outlet in the Great White North! Special thanks to station sports director Dan Williamson for making this happen!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Leaf Trading Cards 2013 Best of Hockey

For the past couple of months, I had been hard at work on contributing art to Leaf Trading Cards' recently released Best of Hockey, which shipped out last week. Below are a few samples of my artwork. For a more comprehensive look at my work for this release, please check out my DeviantArt page here.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

HOF Sketch Card Project: Roberto Clemente

Known equally for his humanitarian efforts as he is for his prowess on the baseball field, Roberto Clemente was a superstar for the Pittsburgh Pirates between 1955 and 1972. The 1966 National League MVP winner, Clemente was a 15-time All-Star and won 12 Gold Glove Awards. Finishing his career with exactly 3,000 hits in 1972, he would tragically perish during the offseason while delivering relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Clemente was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, having the typical 5-year waiting period waived by Hall officials.

I completed this sketch card in December 2012.

10 random facts about Roberto Clemente

  • During his childhood,Clemente's  father worked as foreman of sugar crops located in the municipality. Because the family's resources were limited, Clemente worked alongside his father in the same fields, loading and unloading trucks. 
  • Clemente debuted with the Pirates on April 17, 1955; at the beginning of his time with the team, he experienced frustration because of racial tension with the local media and some teammates.
  • During the 1960 World Series, he batted .310 and hit safely at least once in every game. 
  • The night of July 24, 1970, was declared "Roberto Clemente Night"; on this day,  a ceremony to honor Clemente took place, during which he received a scroll with 300,000 signatures compiled in Puerto Rico, and several thousands of dollars were donated to charity work following Clemente's request.
  • During the 1971 World Series, in which the Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles, Clemente hit .414 and slugged a homerun in the deciding 2-1 seventh game victory; he was named World Series MVP as a result.
  • Upon his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, he became the second person to have the 5-year waiting period waived (the first being Lou Gehrig, who was elected shortly after being afflicted with ALS).
  • He was a 4-time National League batting champion.
  • His 12 Gold Gloves are the most among outfielders (he and Willie Mays share this record).
  • He is the only player in history to have a walk-off, inside-the-park grand slam.
  • MLB presents the Roberto Clemente Award every year to the player who best follows Clemente's example with humanitarian work.

Friday, February 22, 2013

HOF Sketch Card Project: Bob Lemon

A fixture on the Cleveland Indians' pitching staffs during the 1940s and 1950s, Bob Lemon would begin his career as a utility player for the Tribe before joining the U.S. Navy during World War II, converting to a pitcher in the process. In 1948, Lemon would help Cleveland win its first World Series since 1920, as he collected two pitching victories. A 7-time American League All-Star, Lemon would win 20 or more games seven times in his career and retire with a lifetime 207-128 record. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.

I completed this sketch card in December 2012.

10 random facts about Bob Lemon
  • Lemon's Major League debut came not as a pitcher, but as a third baseman on September 9, 1941.
  • Lemon was the MLB leader in shutouts during the 1948 season, with 10.
  • During the 1954 season, Lemon had a career-best 23–7 win-loss record as the Indians set a 154-game season AL-record win mark with 111 victories.
  • A durable pitcher, he led the American League in complete games on 5 separate occasions.  
  • Lemon retired in 1958 with 207 wins, all but ten of them occurring in a ten-year span.
  • He was a 3-time winner of the American League Pitcher of the Year Award (1948, 1950, 1954).
  • He recorded 274 hits in 1,1883 at-bats (.232), and his 37 career home runs are second on the all-time career list for pitchers (behind Wes Ferrell's 38).
  • He was named Manager of the Year with both the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees.
  • He was named Yankees manager during the 1978 season, and proceeded to lead the team to the World Series title that year. By doing so, Lemon became the first AL manager to win a World Series after assuming the managerial role in the middle of a season.
  • The Indians organization retired Lemon's jersey number - 21 - in 1998, making him the sixth Indian to receive the honor.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

HOF Sketch Card Project: Phil Rizzuto

Nicknamed "Scooter", Phil Rizzuto spent his entire 13-year baseball career with the New York Yankees, serving as the team's shortstop from 1941 until 1956. A very popular figure on a team dynasty which captured 10 AL titles and seven World Championships in his 13 seasons, Rizzuto holds numerous World Series records for shortstops. His best statistical season was 1950, when he was named the American League's MVP. Rizzuto was a classic "small ball" player, noted for his strong defense in the infield. The slick-fielding Rizzuto is also regarded as one of the best bunters in baseball history. A solid fielder, Rizzuto's 968 career fielding average at the time of his retirement trailed only Lou Boudreau's mark of .973 among AL shortstops. Rizzuto was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.

I completed this sketch card in December 2012.

10 random facts about Phil Rizzuto

  • Rizzuto was named Minor League Player of the Year in 1940 by The Sporting News
  • His Major League career was interrupted by a stint in the U.S. Navy during World War II; from 1943 to 1945, Rizzuto played on a Navy baseball team.
  • Rizzuto won the AL MVP in 1950 after hitting .324 with 200 hits, and collecting 92 walks while scoring 125 runs.
  • During the 1950s, Hall of Famer Ty Cobb named Phil Rizzuto and Stan Musial as "two of the few modern ball players who could hold their own among old timers."
  • When he retired, his 1,217 career double plays ranked second in history, trailing only Luke Appling's total of 1,424. 
  • At the time of his retirement, he appeared in the most World Series games ever (52), a mark that would eventually be surpassed by 5 of his Yankees teammates.
  • After his playing career, he enjoyed a 40-year career as a radio and TV sports announcer for the Yankees; he was well known for his trademark expression, "Holy cow!"
  • The Yankees retired Rizzuto's number 10 in a ceremony at Yankee Stadium on August 4, 1985.
  • He is a 2009 inductee of the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
  • On February 2, 1950, Rizzuto was the very first mystery guest on the 1950–67 Goodson-Todman Productions game show What's My Line? hosted by John Charles Daly.