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Saving Faces

Aug. 07, 2006
Aug. 07, 2006

Table of Contents
Aug. 7, 2006

SI Players: Life On And Off The Field
Features
SURFING
  • LAIRD HAMILTON WAS ONCE ONE OF ONLY A HANDFUL OF MEN WITH THE SKILL AND THE GUTS TO RIDE THE MASSIVE AND MURDEROUS WAVE KNOWN AS JAWS. BUT THEN CAME THE BOUNTY HUNTERS AND THRILL-SEEKERS, AND THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS SPORT SUDDENLY GOT A WHOLE LOT SCARIER

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Saving Faces

Carving--and jinxing?--teammates in Styrofoam

Michelangelo, daVinci, Botticelli ... Baldelli? Devil Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli (above)may not rank among the Italian masters, but he has made a lasting contributionto art, one that won't biodegrade for 2,000 years. While on the bench during along recovery from assorted injuries, Baldelli, 24, doodled on Styrofoam coffeecups, using a sunflower seed as his stylus. Soon, he was carving portraits ofteammates--each took about five innings to complete--and refining histechnique. "I'd need a sharp seed to do the outlines," he says,"then I'd use the dull end to do the shading."

This is an article from the Aug. 7, 2006 issue Original Layout

Baldelli didthree portraits. Pitcher Mark Hendrickson was "shocked" by theresemblance; catcher Toby Hall admires Baldelli's rendering of facial hair("long, fuzzy little chin hair, eyebrows, everything"). But all agreeBaldelli's masterpiece is his Julio Lugo. "Impressive," says theshortstop. "The mustache he got right, and the nose, that's the difficultpart."

The subsequenttrading of all three of Baldelli's subjects has led some in Tampa Bay'sclubhouse to joke that his pieces have a dark side. That may be why he neverdid a self-portrait--"It'd be one ugly picture," he says--before hisreturn to the lineup interrupted his art career. Says Baldelli of his Styrofoamseries, "It's a real limited edition."

TWO PHOTOSMICHAEL HEAPE (2, BALDELLI & CUPS); PHOTOJOEL AUERBACH/US PRESSWIRE (LUGO)JulioLugo PHOTOSTEVE NESIUS/AP (HENDRICKSON)MarkHendricksonPHOTODAVE CHENG/US PRESSWIRE (HALL)TobyHall