Entries Tagged as 'memorabilia'

Woman suing for copyright infringement over Yankee logo

There’s got to be a statute of limitations for this kind of thing. 

After some 70 years of existence, a woman claims that it was her uncle who created the cap logo for the New York Yankees.  She is, of course, seeking damages for copyright infringement, breach of contract and “unjust enrichment”. 

The logo has long been credited to Lon Keller.  Spokespeople at the Yankees simply say there is “no proof” for the allegations. 

Interview with artist Grant Smith

grant_babe A few weeks back, I wrote a post about artist Grant Smith and his work.  Smith (seen left in front of his work entitled “The White Josh Gibson”) hits on the topic of baseball quite a lot in his art.  If you haven’t seen his work, take a look at http://grant9smith.com

Smith has had his art exhibited at the Chicago Baseball Museum and the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.  He’s even sold some art to Johnny Damon.

Personally, I enjoy his particular style of art (like I said before, I’m no art critic but I know what I like). His view on baseball as seen through his art is unique and each of his paintings seem to tell a story.

Smith and I corresponded a bit over email and I learned a bit more about him and his art.  He graciously agreed to answer a few questions in a Q&A interview. 

The Baseball Zealot:  Give us some background in your artistic endeavors.  Do you do mostly oil paintings?

Grant Smith:  My family always encouraged my art and made a big deal out of everything I made. I know a lot of children are discouraged to pursue art because their parents are feel it is a dead end career that a person cannot make a living.  I use the paintings to delve into subjects that are unjust, ironic, or brutal. The polar opposite for me is baseball. No matter how much stress I have when I turn on a game it melts away. So they are about the battle between good and evil. I work in a few mediums, but oil is my favorite. I use acrylic paint as my first layer of colors called under painting. I use different methods of under painting depending on the mood or color scheme of the work. Oil allows for easier blending because it stays wet longer.

TBZ:  What is the history of your baseball interest?  What teams have you followed most intensely?

GS:  Baseball was a language and theme in my house, and most of my families homes. My great grandparents had a brownstone a few blocks from Wrigley Field, so they were huge Cub fans, as are everyone on my Mom’s side. My Dad’s side was from the South side of Chicago and so I thought I may be the first person to try to be both a Cubs and Sox fan. I wore a Cubs hat to Comiskey park in the late 80’s and had a beer poured on my head from the upper deck, so I quickly realized an allegiance needed to be formed with one or another. I went with the Cubs because there is nothing better than Wrigley Field or the Wrigley neighborhood in general. My grandparents Hugo and Dorothy Stracke loved the Cubs also, and every summer I would vist them and we would go to 3 or 4 Cub games. I also follow the Texas Rangers since the team is 20 minutes away from my home in Dallas, and was thrilled last year to see them get to the World Series.

TBZ:  It’s obvious that you use symbolism a great deal in your art.  More than that, it’s almost as if you use the symbolism to teach a message rather than leave it to the viewer to come up with their own interpretation.  Is that accurate? 

GS:  I like to have the paintings remain subjective, but their are leanings towards some sort of moral lesson or absurdity I want to stress. I have made paintings filled with Jim Crow signs, that are alarming to a person that did not know that existed. I have been at the same show and had a person see a Jim Crow painting and remark how great it was that I was making people confront big_weCanDreamracism, or bigotry that we all have stowed away in our subconscious. 20 minutes later another came over to inform me they didn’t approve of me being a racist and supporting Jim Crow laws. I can only speak for myself, people will come up with an interpretation based on their own life experience. I don’t want to spoon feed someone about the story, art should evoke some sort of emotion in the viewer.

TBZ:  Symbolism aside, I think it’s safe to say that your art work has an ‘edge’ to it.  It doesn’t always show the whitewashed, ‘pretty’ side of baseball.  What kind of responses have you gotten to your work?

GS:  I know I lose a lot of people by not sticking to the pretty pictures that most sports painters like to portray. I paint about Eddie Gaedel being beaten to death, or Pat Tillman being murdered, Rube Foster hanging himself in a mental institution, Jack Johnson and Jim Crow laws. Often there are interesting back stories on what drove a person to these extremes. The psychology interests me; what drives a person to abuse, or their reaction to abuse. These things go on all the time a lot of people would rather ignore them and pretend they don’t happen, I don’t want to have my head buried in the sand.If we confront them they are less likely to reoccur. I love the Charles Bukowski poem The Broken Shoelace. It is about the millions of miniscule disappointments a person has in life that accumulate and finally send a person to the madhouse. Here is a small portion.

It’s not the large things that send a man to the madhouse
death he’s ready for
or murder, incest, robbery,
fire, flood.
No it’s the continuing series of small tragedies
that send a man to a madhouse
not the death of his love, but a shoelace that snaps
with no time left"

Most sports paintings show the hero, mine the anti hero, how many times does the average person know what it’s like to be a hero? I feel they could connect better to my narratives. I’m working on a painting now called "The Piss" It is about an empty seat I saw in the Willie Mays photo from "the catch". About a guy who got up to take a piss at just the wrong time, but being at that game was the highlight of his life so he always lied about what a great view he had of Mays making the catch.

TBZ:  You sold some of your work to MLB outfielder Johnny Damon.  Tell us about that.  How did that come about?

GS:  One of my great friends is named Jeremy Taggart and he is a drummer in a band called Our Lady Peace. I was visiting Jeremy for a week in Toronto in 2002. We went to the Red Sox- Jays game, and afterward to a bar. I saw Damon and Jason Varitek standing at the bar, and went over and introduced myself. We talked for about 10 minutes, and I asked if they like Our Lady Peace. Damon was a big fan, so he wanted to meet the drummer and guitar player who were with me. We ended up hanging out the rest of the night, exchanged numbers, and he ended up buying quite a few paintings from me. In December of 2004 I went to his wedding in Orlando, they had just won the World Series, and the wedding party was a week long, and amazing time.

TBZ:  Your website is http://grant9smith.com .  On your website, you tell us that ‘9’ was chosen originally because of Ted Williams.  Why?

GS:  Ted always fascinated me, with the bigger than life personality, his obsession with hitting, his skill as a Marine fighter pilot. He was a big reason I joined the Marines. I started to read about numerology, and various metaphors and meanings of numbers looked to baseball to make my own meaning of the number. 9 players on a team, 9 innings in a game, 0 is the lowest numeral, 9 is the highest before additional digits are needed.So 9 is the prest before additional digits are needed. Sitting in a studio all day so I tend to think about bizarre stuff like this.

TBZ:  Let’s end on a corny one… If you were stranded on a desert island, what baseball art piece (painting, poetry, sculpture, anything) would you bring to remind you of the game you love?

GS:  That is great question, and a difficult one. I would cheat a bit and bring 2 from the same artist Raymond Pettibon. The first is titled Babe Ruth, and the second 0 for 40. I can go back to the text of these paintings and create different meanings numerous times. For me that is what makes art fun, turning it back on yourself, using your own experiences and life to make it your own.

Much thanks to Grant Smith for sharing his thoughts with us.  If you want to see more of Grant’s art, stop by his website at http://grant9smith.com. 

Art Credit: “We Can Dream” by Grant Smith

The Case of the Lost George Bush baseball card- revisited

A friend of mine and I were chatting about baseball and baseball cards in particular today and the topic of the Topps George Bush baseball card fiasco came up.  It’s a local story from 11 years ago I was woefully ignorant.

The details can be summed as such:

In 1990, Lee Hull and Dan Cook were owners of Who’s on First, a baseball card shop in Champaign, Illinois.  They bought what they thought was a typical Topps baseball card set from a woman.  Among the other cards though, was a baseball card with George Bush dressed in his 1947 Yale uniform.  Very odd.

As told by the owners of the shop, the were sued by a local lawyer who claimed the shop owners offered up for sale for fifteen cents.  Rumor has it they were asked how much they thought it was worth and they gave their opinion with no intention of selling it (let’s face it, do baseball card shop owners EVER sell any cards for 15 cents).


Here’s the rub:  Topps got wind of the lawsuit and heard about one of their George Bush baseball card floating around.  The baseball card company claimed that only 100 of those cards were made and they were presented to the White House (remember this was back in 1990 when Bush was in the White House).

Topps went as far as to accuse Who’s on First baseball card shop of possessing stolen property.

The story had all the twists and turns of a late night B movie.  Even People magazine picked up the story back in 1990 As for Hull and Cook, they resolved to stay strong:

Hull calls the suit ridiculous and vows to play hardball with any and all comers. As for Topps, he says, it “asked if we’d give it back if George Bush asked us to. I said only if he came here or we got to go to the White House.”

As for how the story ended, I’m not really sure.  Who’s on First folded after a year a so and I’m not finding any news reports that give any conclusion to our little melodrama.

A closer look at World Series art

Seiler is a Chicago based artist who was commissioned by Major League Baseball to do some art for the 2010 World Series program.  That’s quite an honor!

On his blog, It’s Funny Because It’s True, Seiler writes about his experience but mostly breaks down each piece art (almost literally as he zooms in and shows segments of each piece art). 

If you’re a baseball art fanatic, this is definitely worth looking at.  For me as the old saying goes, I don’t know art but I know what I like.  And I kinda like this.

Catholic nuns can’t appreciate inherit beauty of Wagner card

Good news for the Baltimore-based order of Catholic nuns who was bequeathed a Honus Wagner baseball card.  They found a buyer.

Doug Walton of Knoxville, Tennessee, will pay $262,000 for the rare card which was auctioned off this week.  This figure exceeded analysts expectations up to 100%.

Walton didn’t mind paying the extra dough, according to The Sporting News:

“To be honest with you, we probably paid a little bit more than we should have,” he said Friday. “But with the back story, and the fact that it’s going to a really good charity, to us it just seemed worth it.”

The nuns plan to put the money to good work.  They plan to use it in their ministries to the poor in 35 countries.

How Cubs fans can spend their hard earned money

What better way to honor your visit to Wrigley Field than to… throw a football??

From mlb.com:

The Friendly Confines will be transformed into a football field for the first time since 1970 when the Northwestern University Wildcats host the University of Illinois Fighting Illini for a special college game in a unique setting. The Cubs are opening the ballpark the following day, Sunday, November 21, for fans to play catch on the football field-all for Chicago Cubs Charities.

I’ll wait till next year’s Dunking Contest at the Friendly Confines.

A better way to spend your money perhaps is the Chicago Cubs Convention.  Since the tickets went on sale today for the January 14-16 affair your luck in getting them through the normal channels may be thin.  But there’s always Ebay and other popular web auction and reseller sites.  I’ve had luck doing that in the past.  250x300_cookbook


Finally, if that money is still burning a hole in your wallet of yours, you could always buy a Cubs cookbook.  No, the image to the right is not a joke.  I wish it was.  At least the proceeds go to a good cause… the Dempster Family Foundation.

I wonder if it includes goat stew… or humble pie.

Sammy’s corked bat up for bid in online auction

If anyone is interested in plopping down $10,000, you could own parts of Sammy Sosa’s corked bat that he used in the game he caught using it.  The auction at Schulte Auctions is still going on and the bid at the moment is $9.840.  Hurry, Hurry though!  The auction ends October 31. 

The current owner of the bat?  Former reliever from the Cubs (and pretty much every other NL team) Mike Remlinger, who won the game that night against Tampa Bay.  He had the foresight to pick up the barrel of the bat (MLB confiscated the rest of the bat. 

The Cardboard Connection has a good write-up on the story.

What’s the Buzz? Vuvuzelas!

I promised myself that the word ‘vuvuzela’ would not be written on this blog anywhere.  Sounds too much like the private regions of a woman.  But the irony of this is too much to pass up.

First, the Yankees have decided to ban the razzy sounding horn popularized and yet hated at the World Cup from Yankee Stadium.  Rumor has it that one fan had one grabbed from him by security as he entered the Yankee-Philly game. 

Yet at the same time, the Florida Marlins will be giving away 15,000 similar horns, considered obnoxious by many, as part of a promotion Saturday night.  This may backfire on the Marlins. 

These horns won’t be exactly the same as the vuvuzelas we’ve been seeing (and most likely hearing) at the World Cup.

From the Palm Beach Post:

The horns to be given away before Florida’s game against Tampa Bay are similar to but not the same as the soccer horns, said Sean Flynn, the Marlins’ vice president for marketing.

"They’re not as buzzing as vuvuzelas, but they’re loud,’ he said.

I’m sure as usual, Major League Baseball will have to come down with an edict, making a policy in horrendous detail, what is allowed and not allowed in MLB parks resulting in more security issues at parks. 

Team logo aside, would YOU buy this cap???




Well, MLB thinks someone will.

Another chapter in the Upper Deck story

Last August, I wrote about the deal between MLB and Topps and how it was arranged that Topps would have exclusive rights to MLB logos and graphics. 

Now there seems to be another chapter to the story. 

MLB is now suing Upper Deck for trademark infringement for using its logos on its cards without permission. 

It said Upper Deck’s cards improperly feature various sport and team logos, and that some 2010 packaging featuring New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter may confuse consumers because of its similarity to authorized packaging used in 2009.

MLB wants to halt sales of the cards and seeks “triple and punitive damages”.

I’m all in Upper Deck’s corner for the non-competitive deal that MLB made with Topps last year but surely Upper Deck didn’t think they could get away with this.  MLB (and Topps for that matter) would be keeping their eyes on them for any trademark infringement.  And sure enough, they caught them with their hand in the figurative cookie jar.