Everything you ever wanted to know about ballplayer statues

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Statues of baseball players: they’re not just the place where you meet your buddy who has the extra ticket or a convenient location for the pigeons to poop. They’re actually becoming an increasingly popular fixture in ballparks, and the New York Times is on it.  (They’re always ON IT, actually).

For reasons that I can’t quite explain, but likely having to do with a fear of mortality and all of that, I have never been able to avoid thinking of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” whenever I see a statue of some historical figure. I realize that the idea is to immortalize these men and women and serve as a reminder of their feats, but I always get an image of Earth in the post-Martian invasion, with these statutes consisting of two vast and trunkless legs of stone. Or bronze. Or whatever. It feels like we’re trying too hard to fight against time and deep in my heart, I know we’ll never win.

Sorry. I’ll admit that this is my particular neurosis, so I’ll just move along now.

Less morosely, I found the description of how some of the artists make these ballplayer statues to be quite neat. The examples of those crafted with reference to live models, as opposed to photos, are pretty cool:

Cella supplied a plastic bat for Thomas (White Sox) so he could hold his position, with arms extended. Robin Roberts (Phillies) had turned 80 when he mimicked his pitching style for Frudakis, and Harmon Killebrew (Twins) posed in his 70s for Mack. The son of Richie Ashburn (Phillies) stood in for his deceased father. Mack was driving when he spotted a man with a body shape similar to that of the deceased Kirby Puckett. The stranger became the model for Puckett.

I wonder if the stranger was flattered or insulted. Great ballplayer. Not the best body shape ever, though his statue is rather flattering.

Anyway, neat read.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.