Quick one of Knucksie. On this day in Baseball - 1976 - In a pitching match up that featuresd the Niekro brothers. Joe (with the Astros) beat Phil (with the Braves) 4-1. Adding insult to injury, Joe hits the FIRST AND ONLY home run of his 22-year career off of his older sibling.
Everyday I want to get better, be better at what it is that I do. Better painter, better illustrator, better husband, better father, better son, brother, friend, etc. Not an uncommon aspiration - throughout my life I have been a sucker for self help and motivational writers and speech makers. Seth Godin is my man right now and Seth has developed a course "Move Up" to motivate freelancers to - well, move up in the world. Define and go for what you want. His first assignment is to answer the following questions and to answer them publicly. Hence the reason for my post. Here goes -
Q1. What do you want to do?
Q2. Who do you want to change and how do you want to change them?
Q3. How much are you willing to risk (scale 1-10) to make the change you seek?
Q4. How much work are you willing to do to get there?
Q5. Does this project matter enough to justify the risk and effort you are putting into it?
Q6. Is it possible?
A1. I want to create remarkable art. Definition of remarkable - : worthy of being remarked or likely to be noticed especially as being uncommon or extraordinary. That is what I want to do. Specifically I want to create images of sports figures and music, movie, and tv icons. I want to have my work published in Sports Illustrated and other such national print media. I want to master the art of painting and continue to improve my drawing skills every day. I want to create art that people are compelled to own. To do this I must become a master at my craft. A2. I want to change the people that like my art into a tribe that can't get enough and can't wait to see what is next. I want them to be moved to laugh, to remark, or to remember. A3. Well I figure 10 is life or death, 9 is probably risking limbs or at least digits - so I'll say I am an 8. A4. I work 10-12 hours a day now. Although not always with a singular purpose or big picture in mind. I admit to sometimes doing busy work. This course is providing a new spark and I feel the excitement of a clear direction and defined focus. A5. I think it does. It certainly gives me a sense of purpose and I hope my work will be enjoyed by many for years and years to come A6. Yes it's possible.
#1 Ozzie Smith - "The Wizard" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. Was there any doubt. Ozzie was an acrobat at shortstop and one of my all-time favorites. 1978 was near the beginning of TBS and every Atlanta Braves game was on TV. And if a game was on - we watched it. That was Smith's rookie season with the Padres and they hosted the Braves 10 games into the season. Jeff Boroughs came to the plate in the 4th and hit a ground ball up the middle, Ozzie went to his left and made what I think is the greatest infield play in baseball history. As Smith dives to make the stop - the ball takes a bad hop - and in mid-air Ozzie reaches back with his bare hand - snags it, gets to his feet and throws out Jeff Burroughs. It was and is the most unbelievable thing I have ever seen on a baseball field. Other number ones of note - Richie Ashburn, Pee Wee Reese (one of my Dad's favs) and Garry Templeton (who the Cards traded for Ozzie). Atlanta players who wore #1 - Otis Nixon (who made a great catch of his own) and who could forget, Oddibe "young again" McDowell.
Well there you have it. 30 of my favorite players of all-time by the numbers. Stay tuned for how you can purchase one of these original. I hope you enjoyed it - I had a good time. I'll share more of the process soon, give you my thoughts on this series, what I learned, and what is next.
Thanks to everyone for all the likes, kind comments, and interaction.
We are at the end of the series and that means Cards and Cubs kick off the 2015 season tomorrow. Play Ball!
#2 Derek Jeter - "Captain" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. Jeter made one of the most amazing hustle and heads up play I have ever seen in the 2001 ALDS. Tying run on first - double in the right field corner. The Yankees right fielder over threw both cut off men - Jeter came all the way across the diamond - caught the errant throw and backhanded it to Posada who tagged out Giambi. Known as the flip - its worth a you tube look if you missed it live. Jeter retired with 3465 hits, good for 6th all-time and a career batting average of .310. No other number 2 was ever in contention. Well, we are down to number one. Speaking of amazing plays - this guy made the greatest defensive play in the history of the game - #1
#3 Babe Ruth - "The Great Bambino" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. If you love baseball you have to love the storied career of Babe Ruth. A larger than life figure known for his majestic home runs and charismatic personality. The Babe is an easy choice here. Other notable number threes - Harmon Killebrew and Jimmy Foxx. A Braves favorite and certainly one of mine - Dale Murphy wore number 3. Down the to our last 2
#4 Lou Gehrig - "The Iron Horse" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. One of the all-time greats. Gehrig's career was cut short by the disease that bears his name. A career .340 hitter, won the triple crown in 1934 and was twice named AL MVP. Here's some trivia for you - Gehrig is the first MLB player to ever have his number retired. A great story and an awesome player. Always struck by the size of the bats swung by the sluggers of old. Other fours not considered - Paul Molitor, Duke Snider. Atlanta players who wore the number - Jeff Blauser and one of my personal favorites - Bif Pocoroba
#5 Brooks Robinson - "The Human Vacuum Cleaner" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. Brooks was perhaps my favorite player of all-time. I didn't just like Brooks Robinson - I wanted to be Brooks Robinson. The 1970 World Series was the Brooks Robinson show. He made one spectacular play after the other and hit .429 with 2 home runs to help Baltimore beat the Reds 4 games to 1. I had to have a pair of those flip down shades and started wearing eye black, which in those days was a burnt piece of cork. Other number 5's - of course the great Joe DiMaggio, George Brett, and Johnny Bench. Ron Gant wore number 5 for the Bravos as did Bob Horner. #4 - another all-time great
#6 Stan Musial "Stan the Man" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. Almost went with Al Kaline here - since I actually saw Kaline play but Musial was just too good. Career .331 batting average, 3630 hits (4th all-time), 6134 in total bases - second only to Aaron. Musial won 7 batting titles, 3 World Series with the Cardinals and was an All-Star 24 times (a record shared with Mays and Aaron). Other 6s of note - Steve Garvey (no way). Braves who wore 6 - One of my favorites Clete Boyer, Davey Johnson and of course Bobby Cox. #5 - lots of good players wore number five
#7 Mickey Mantle - "The Commerce Comet" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. The greatest switch hitter of all-time and one of the games greatest sluggers. Mantle won the triple crown in 1956, was an all-star 20 times, league MVP three times, and appeared in 12 World Series winning 7 with the Yankees. My favorite Mantle quote - "Had I known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself". Never considered anyone else at 7 although there are some fine players in the bunch - namely Craig Biggio and Pudge Rodriguez. Famous Braves to wear number 7 - Gil Garrido (I got his autograph on a program many moons ago) and Jeff Burroughs. #6 - between two players, one I saw play and the other an all-time great.
#8 Willie Stargell - "Pops" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. It would have been easy to pick Yogi Berra here - or Cal Ripken - or even Carl Yastrzemski. I am big fans off all those players. But honestly I never pulled for any of them like I pulled for Stargell and the 1979 Pirates. They were so much fun. Down 3 games to 1 in the World Series they stormed back and beat Baltimore in 7 games. Down one to nothing in the 6th Stargell hit a 2 run homer to win game seven. An who as a kind didn't mimic his bat wind up! #7 - is there more than one?
#9 Ted Williams - "Teddy Ballgame" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. Ted Williams finished with a career batting average of .344. Despite missing three years to military service, he hit 512 homeruns and 1839 RBI. Seventeen times an all-star, twice won the AL MVP and two times won the triple crown. Williams has the highest on base percentage in history - .482. The last man to hit .400 and simply the greatest hitter who ever lived. The only other 9 of note to me was Graig Nettles. Atlanta players to don number 9 - Terry Pendleton and Marquis Grissom. A ton of good players a #8 - tough choice for sure.
#10 Chipper Jones - "Larry" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. Chipper is by far my favorite player to wear number 10. The first overall pick in the 1990 MLB draft. 8 times and All-Star, NL MVP in 1999. He won a batting title in 2008 (.364). Chipper is one of the most accomplished switch hitter of all time - and is the only switch hitter to finish with a .300+ batting average (.303) and over 400 homeruns (468). Some tens you may have considered - Larry Bowa, Ron Cey, Andre Dawson and Ron Santo. Besides Chipper - Chris Chambliss was another Atlanta player to wear the number 10 well.
#11 Edgar Martinez - "Gar" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. The Gar could flat out hit. The only full-time DH so far to every win a batting title (1995 .356). He hit .571 in the 1995 ALDS vs the Yankees and was on base 18 times in 5 games. In game 4 he hit a grand salami in the 8th inning with the game tied 6-6. And in game 5 - down 5-4 in the 11th - doubled off of Jack McDowell to score Junior from 1st and win it for the Mariners. One of my favorite baseball moments. Other 11's I considered - Barry Larkin, Bill Freehan, and Luis Aparicio. One fo my Favorite Braves wore number 11 - Darrell (Howdy Doody) Evans. On to #10
#12 Roberto Alomar "Robbie" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. Easy pick for me here. Alomar was awesome with the glove and at the plate. A 12 time All-Star and won more Gold Gloves (10) than any other second baseman in history. First player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Bluejay. Other 12's Shawon Dunston and Jeff Kent. Braves who donned the number - Dusty Baker who was on deck when Aaron hit 715 and slid heard around the world - Sid Bream. #11
#13 Dave Concepcion "Elmer" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. Pretty easy choice here. Have to be a fan of the Big Red Machine. Davey was one of the Big Eight and perfected the one bounce throw to first base. Originally drafted as a pitcher - oddly enough. Other thirteens - John Blue Moon Odum - loved the A's back in the white shoe 70s. Only Brave I could find that wore number 13 - Billy Wagner - who was more of an Astro if you ask me. On to Number 12
#14 Ernie Banks - "Mr Cub" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. Most would probably choose Rose here but honestly I wasn't that big a fan of Charlie Hustle. He lacked - how do you say. "moral fiber." Although Banks was near the end of his career when I was a kid I remember him hitting number 500 off of Pat Jarvis ("The Little Bulldog") of the Braves. 14 for Atlanta - Andres Galaraga. #13 is next
#15 Thurman Munson - "Heart and Soul" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. The only Yankee to ever win ROY (1970) and MVP (1976). Seven times an All-Star a good hitter but an outstanding defensive player. Considered the Heart and Soul of the Yankees, Munson was an easy pick here. Other 15s of note - George Foster and Dick Allen. Braves to wear number 15 Joe Torre, Tim Hudson, and Claudell Washington who had an All-Star season with the Bravos in 1984. #14 would be a no brainer for most. I may choose someone else.
#16 Dwight Gooden - "Doctor K" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. Doc Gooden was an easy choice here. Gooden was dominate from the start - winning 17 games and ROY honors his first year. Appeared in the All-Star game his rookie season at 19 years old and proceeded to strikeout the side. Won the Cy Young award his next season leading the league in Wins (24), Strikeouts (268), ERA (1.53) and Complete Games (16). Hurt his shoulder in 89 and was never the same. Atlanta players to wear 16 - Rafael Ramirez and Brian McCann. Who will I pick for #15?
#17 Lance Berkman "Fat Elvis" - 9" x 12" Acrylic on paper. I really like Berkman as a player - 6 time All-Star and one of the best all-time switch hitters in the NL but the main reason he is on this list is because of his nickname - FAT ELVIS. It is perfect. Not a very exciting list of 17s - Todd Helton, Mark Grace. Was fond of mimicking Mickey Rivers swing as a kid. Two Braves of note to wear 17 - Glenn "Mother" Hubbard and Felix Milan "The Kitten" - both had great gloves but not much bat.
#18 Omar Moreno - "We Are Family" - 9" x 12" Acrylic painting. This is mostly a team award here - Omar was the lead-off hitter of one of my favorite teams - the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. In the 70's and part of the 80's it because vogue speedy hitter at the top of the lineup. Moreno was certainly that and hit .333 in the '79 World Series. Other 18's Johnny Damon and Gene Tenance ( and honestly would have went with Tenance had there been better reference. Braves of note - Ryan Klesko wore 18.
17 is sort of thin with superstars - but I have a favorite in mind
#19 Tony Gwynn "Mr Padre" - 9" x 12" Acrylic on paper. Gwynn wins out over Robin Yount. Gwynn hit.338 for his career. Won eight batting titles, 15 times an All-Star. A class act all the way around. Other notables who wore 19 Jay Buhner, Bert Campaneris, and Greg Luzinski. Current Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons wear 19 and the man who drove in Sid Bream with tow outs in the 9th to win game 7 of the 1992 NLCS - Francisco Cabrera. Do you remember who he pinch hit for? #18 is the next number
#20 Mike Schmidt - "Schmitty" - 9" x 12" Acrylic on paper. Pretty easy choice here. Lou Brock and Frank Robinson get honorable mention. Schmidt considered by many as the greatest third baseman ever. 548 HR led the NL 8 times in Homeruns, 12 time All-Star, ten Gold Gloves, 3 time National League MVP. Harry Kalas call of Schmidt's 500th HR is a classic. Braves players to wear number 20 - Bruce Benedict - they're not booing, they're saying Bruuuuuce. And the Lemer - Mark Lemke.
#21 Roberto Clemente - "Bob" - 9" x 12" Acrylic on paper. Played 18 seasons with the Pirates, 12 times and All-Star, MVP in 1966, 4 times he lead the NL in hitting, won 12 Gold Gloves, and had exactly 3000 hits. Died tragically in plane crash in 1972 at the age of 38. This was a no-doubter. Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa are two others to wear 21 - both tainted by PED's. The Braves Warren Spahn had his number retired in 1965 by Milwaukee so no Atlanta player ever got to wear 21. Who will get the nod at #20?
#22 Will Clark - "The Thrill" - 9" x 12" Acrylic on paper. Will the Thrill homered in his first major league at bat against none other than Nolan Ryan. I loved the way Clark competed and I like that he is a hunter and outdoors man. Played college ball at Mississippi State and is a member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Other notable double 2s - Jim Palmer and Bill Buckner. Brett Butler and Roland Office wore 22 for the Braves. #21 is a no-brainer and one of the all-time greats.
#23 Luis Tiant - ""El Tiante" - 9" x 12" Acrylic on paper. Tiant started with Cleveland but made his mark in my mind with the Redsox during the early-mid 70's. Remember Tiant winning game 1 and 4 in the 1975 World Series vs the Reds. Still my favorite World Series. I strongly considered Kirk Gibson and Ryne Sandber but ultimately the character of Tiant won out - and I couldn't resist getting to paint that face. Milt Papas famously wore 23 for the Braves 68-70 and Halle Berry's husband wore 23 as well. Twenty-two is up
#24 Ken Griffey Jr - "The Kid" - 9" x 12" Acrylic on paper.
Tried to make you think I was going with Willie Mays, and I love Willie but he's not my favorite #24. Late 60's early 70's Willie was past his prime so I never fell in love with Mays. Griffey on the other hand was electric from the start and I saw it all. Eligible for the HOF next year and a sure fire first ballot selection. Other 24's of note Rickey Henderson, Tony Perez, and Manny Ramirez. I currently am a big fan of Miguel Cabrera who wears 24 for theTigers.
Old Bravo's with 24 on their back - Ken Oberkfell, Derek Lilliquist, and John "the count" Montefusco. #23 is next. Tough choice - I have it narrowed to two
#25 Jim Thome - "Mr Incredible" - 9" x 12" Acrylic on paper. Thome hit 612 homeruns in his 22 year career - good for 7th all-time. I call him Mr. Incredible because he looks just like the cartoon character. My favorite thing about Thome, on my fantasy team I traded Andy Benes for a $2 Jim Thome when he was a rookie. Won the league with him two years later. Lots of good players wore 25 Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro but the steroids kept them off my list.
Atlanta players that wore #25 - Andruw Jones (could have been so good), Pete Smith, and briefly the colorful Willie Montanez.
#26 Wade Boggs - "Chicken Man" - 9" x 12" acrylic on paper. Wade Boggs was a hitting machine - career .328, 3010 total hits, 5 batting titles and on and on. Known for his superstitions - used to eat chicken before every game noting "there's hits in that chicken." Also took exactly 150 ground balls before every game, hit at 5:17, ran at 7:17 and wouldn't let the PA announcer say his number when he came to the plate. Boog Powell was a close second here but I love the superstitions and longevity of Boggs career. Braves to don the number 26 - Gene Garber, Tom House (the man who caught 715 off of Aaron's bat), Alejandro Pena and everybody's favorite Dan Uggla. Up next # 25
Tough choice - they all took steroids!
#27 Juan Marichal - "Giant Kick" - 9" x 12" Acrylic on paper. Juan won more games in the 60's than any other pitcher. Famously won the "greatest game ever pitched" by beating the Braves Warren Spahn in 16 innings - both pitched the whole game. Mays homered off of Spahn in the 16th to win it 1-0. I almost went with Vladimir Guerrero but the leg kick won out in the end. Also seriously considered Carlton Fisk. Braves who wore 27 - Lonnie Smith and Pascual Perez. McGriff wore 27 with Braves for 5 years but wore 29 for most of his career. #26 is up next.
Bert Blyleven - "Be Home Blyleven" - 9" x 12" Acrylic on paper
Won 287 games in 22 seasons. Elected to HOF in 2011. But he makes this list as my favorite #28 not because of his Hall of Fame career but because of the nickname given to him by Chris Berman. Bert "Be Home" Blyleven - a line from an old Richard Pryor comedy routine. Honorable Mentions go to Pedro Guerrero and Bobby Tolan. Notable Braves to wear 28 - Gerald Perry and Mike Lum. On to the number #27 - a really tough choice for me. I have not decided - what is your pick?
#29 John Smoltz. "Peeking In" = 9" x 12" Acrylic on paper. Smoltzie is interestingly the first pitcher to make the Hall of Fame after Tommy John surgery. As a Braves fan that was an easy pick. Runner ups include - Felipe Alou, Rod Carew, and Dan Quisenberry. If you grew up an American League fan Carew might have been the pick here. Notable Braves to wear #29 - Alou of course and Craig McMurtry. McMurtry went 15-9 in 1983 and finished 2nd to Darrly Strawberry ROY. Only won 13 more games in his career. Most of you guessed t#29 - My favorite #28 won't be so easy!
#30 Nolan Ryan. "The Long Arm of the Law" - 9" x 12" Acrylic on paper. Many people think of Ryan as #34 - the number he wore with Houston and Texas. But he actually had more strikeouts wearing number 30. Honorable mentions for the #30 go to Tim "Rock" Raines and Orlando Cepeda. Cha-Cha was one of my favorite Braves as a kid - he was in Atlanta 69-72. Another number 30 Braves fans will remember is old "Ground Ball Second Base" - Mike Stanton.