American Hero

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Project Description

American Hero

Giclee Print on Mounted Canvas
Edition of 100 S/N
Image: 16″ x 40″

What can anyone say about Cal Ripken that hasn’t been said before? Books have been written; testimonials abound from fans, friends, teammates and rivals, and finally the ultimate honor for a ballplayer: induction into the Hall of Fame. Toward the end of his career as a player Cal either broke or set records almost every time he stepped onto the field. His consecutive game streak, or ‘The Streak,’ is a record that will never be broken. His deeds off the field would be hard to match. In this day of spoiled, overpaid, selfish and self-indulgent “athletes,” Cal stands out as “An American Hero.”

This painting is my way of paying tribute to one of my all-time favorite players. I have said many times that I have been very lucky in that I have made a career painting the things that I love. Baseball is one of my first loves (maybe just behind art) and this is neither my first nor last baseball painting. Most of the props are self-explanatory. Interestingly, the Rawlings glove in the painting is actually my glove but it is almost the same model that Cal used. I made the handle of the bat a light natural color rather than black for composition sake. Finally, many well meaning people pointed out to me that the number “7” on the hat was wrong;  Cal wore “8”. Of course he did; Cal “Senior” wore number “7”.

I was fortunate enough to meet Cal once, very early in his career, actually before his career really began. It was the end of the 1981 season and Cal had been called up from Rochester to get a taste of the Majors, although he certainly knew what life in the Majors was like on some level because Cal “Senior,” had been in the Oriole organization for nearly twenty years at that time. I was in the Oriole clubhouse prior to a game, visiting with my friend the late Mark Belanger, a great Orioles shortstop for so many years and Cal’s predecessor. Cal came up to Mark’s locker to ask Mark about something. Mark put his arm around Cal and said, “Joe, this is Cal Junior. Keep your eye on this kid; he just might make it.” As George Will might say, “Well…”

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