You might already know that I do work with Teambrown Apparel. Over the past six years or so I’ve done a line of Negro League shirts, and All American Girls Professional Baseball League series and seven shirts representing the Major League Negro Leagues. My newest creations are a series of five shirts honoring Hall of Famers in a silhouette-style.
I came up with this style a few years ago when I was asked to develop a Stan Musial concept for a company that did banners. Their products were of high-quality but the designs were nothing more than a logo supplied by a pro team slapped on a banner. I was asked to do something creative, and I did:
When I showed this concept around, the feedback was better than anything I had done in a while. Unfortunately, the company’s “art director” did not like the idea of a real artist doing work for them. So, my Musial concept was unceremoniously dumped, and the company went on producing stuff that on a good day could be termed “ordinary.”
I kept the style in the back of my mind ever since, waiting to get the chance to try it again. That time came at the end of last year when Team Brown contacted me about doing some shirt designs of a few Hall of Famers. Stan the Man wasn’t on the list of approved players, but I quickly identified five that I really wanted to work on. I found the style I started with the Musial piece lent itself nicely to the five players I picked. After hashing out the production details I finished my art and Team Brown submitted them to the Hall of Fame. The Hall ok’d them within 24 hours – that has to be a record, right?
So, without further blather, here’s the five designs from my “Silhouette Series”
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.
I wanted to do a shirt of Junior because in my 45 years of going to ballgames, he was the greatest ballplayer I had ever seen play. When I lived in Baltimore, I went to every single Mariners game just to see Junior play. It was like watching a highlight reel every time the ball came near him. I’ve seen all the greats of my generation, but Griffey was in a league of his own. When I saw his name on the list of approved players, I knew I wanted to do a shirt of him.
Once in a lifetime there comes a player who completely revolutionizes their sport. Think of Michael Jordan in basketball, Muhammad Ali in boxing, Tiger Woods in golf… and then there is Johnny Bench in baseball. Almost from the beginning of his career, Bench completely changed how the position of catcher was played. Every backstop that came after him owes the way they work behind the plate to Johnny. There’s a great story about Reds manager Sparky Anderson being interviewed after his Reds beat Boston in the 1975 World Series. When asked to compare Johnny Bench to Boston’s Carlton Fisk, sparky simply stated, “I don’t want to embarrass any other catcher by comparing him to Johnny Bench.”
Simply stated, when I was a kid, Tom Seaver was my guy. I wont say “idol” or “hero” – I think those titles should be given to someone you personally know. I never met Tom Seaver, but if there was one think a young Gary C. could count on, when Tom Terrific was pitching, my Mets had a damn good chance of winning that day. It broke my heart to see him pitch his only no-hitter in a Reds uniform – but I rooted for him anyway. Idol or hero? Nah, but as far as someone who gave a young kid hope once a week, Tom Seaver has a special place in my memories.
Larry Doby sometimes gets the shaft when it comes to his place in the integration of baseball. Sure, he was second after Jackie Robinson, but he suffered all the indignities Jackie went through – and he did it by himself in the American League. Being second can sometimes mean being overlooked. Jackie played in the 1947 World Series – Doby led the Cleveland Indians to the World Championship in 1948. But to me, Larry Doby is second to nobody. He’s a great ballplayer on his own. Plus, being from New Jersey, Doby has always had a special place in my Pantheon of Greats. That’s why he’s in the FIRST group of my Silhouette Series.
I simply had to do a shirt of Ozzie Smith. Remembering him play and re-watching the highlight reels of Ozzie reminds me of the sheer joy baseball can bring to me. Much like Ernie Bank’s famous saying, “Let’s play two,” the image of Ozzie Smith turning cartwheels for the heck of it just brings a smile to my jaded mug.
Well, That’s a look at my Silhouette Series. You can visit Team Brown’s website or the Hall of Fame’s gift shop to order a shirt, or just click on the names below and it’ll take you right to the page:
And you can view these and other shirts I have available HERE