New York City's Spectrum Gallery is host this summer and fall to a group show entitled Ballpark Figures: Baseball Art, an expanded version of which is to be installed next year at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Gallery director Bill Goff, a fan of the game, says the exhibition will be the most comprehensive of its kind. One can believe it; it already includes paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, cartoons, photographs, collages, jewelry, one puppet and—would you believe—stained glass.
The show is fascinating, but like the game itself, it has some problems. Fortunately, none are fatal. The first is an unevenness unavoidable in an effort of this size. As with baseball players, some artists just aren't as good as other artists. Contemplate, for instance, LeRoy Neiman and Bill Gallo—among the most popular of our nation's sports artists—in the same lineup with Joe Brown, Ben Shahn, Claes Oldenburg and Willard Mullin.
The other difficulty with the show is its very size. It contains upwards of 125 entries and will swell to 250 by next year. The effect on the viewer can be numbing, even to the most ardent fan. The show as a whole would benefit if some of the artists didn't get so much playing time, and the same is true of some of the subjects—there are 11 Reggie Jacksons, for instance.
However, some old pros make the effort worthwhile. Austin Briggs, Earl Oliver Hurst and Robert Riggs never looked more vigorous, and younger hands like Walter Spitzmiller, Robert Cunningham, Arnold Roth and Bill Charmatz hit well for average.
August 30, 1981
The exhibition will be at 30 West 57th St. in Manhattan until Oct. 9, although it will change as works are sold and replaced by others (everything is for sale).
Go and cheer once more for Mays, DiMaggio, Roberts, Berra, Howard, Newcombe, Campanella and Yastrzemski, and save one hooray for Syd Hap's marionette. "Reg-gie! Reg-gie!" will do.