Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Honus Wagner and "King" Kelly

I got a bit lazy on these two. I wanted to do drawings from the early days of Major League baseball and I had all these great photos to work from, but I just didn't wanna cut any friskets. So I tried a couple of monochromatic faces, just a drawing in charcoal, a spritz of acrylic, and some highlights with colored pencil. While I like the drawing of Honus Wagner better (and he does have some color blending going on) these ultimately proved to be two of my least satisfying faces.
Mike "King" Kelly initially played for the Reds starting in 1878, apparently one of the great players of his era and perhaps of all time. The books say he played every position and was noted for his nimble baserunning. After a few stellar years with the White Sox in the 1880's, he was traded to the Boston Braves. This so riled the Chicago fans that they actually boycotted games unless Boston was in town, they loved Kelly so much. Fan loyalty back in the day.
Honus Wagner, AKA "The Flying Dutchman" was a tremendous talent and the first Hall of Famer. A legendary shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Wagner did everything well. He hit for average, ran the basepaths like a madman (he once stole Home twice in the same game) and was so loyal to Pittsburgh that he turned down big money to go play elsewhere. It's Wagner's baseball card that continues to be the Holy Grail for collectors, (fetching $1,265,000 at auction in 2000) being so rare because Wagner demanded that the card cease to be printed because he thought the card's sponsor, a tobacco company, promoted unhealthy living. Wagner didn't like smoking, although apparently he did chew tobacco.
So wait a minute, let me get this straight - a professional baseball player who turned down big money out of loyalty to fans, played for one team essentially his entire career, objected to being glorified by a tobacco company because he objected to the substance, and was known for his modesty as much as his playing prowess? Wow. It's almost like reading about another species.

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