FROM THE NEWS-LEDGE – May 18, 2001 -
By Steve Marschke
There are a couple of new guys playing baseball in the middle of 1100-block of West Capitol Avenue – oversized, bronze fellows. The sculpture was installed with little fanfare several weeks ago after West Sacramento city staff saw an opportunity to pick up some “public art” from storage at Sacramento’s Crocker museum. The city has a policy promoting public art.
“The baseball players were originally commissioned by Frank and Lee Luckenbill as part of their effort to bring a regional stadium,” said Mark Zollo, a senior administrative analyst for the redevelopment agency. “At some point, the Luckenbills donated them to the Crocker. They were on display at Crocker Park. The pitcher was up on one foot, supported by a dowel, and some kids pulled the pitcher over. So the Crocker put the sculpture in storage.”
“Les Bowman (a former manager in Zollo’s department) contacted the Crocker. We initiated the loan with them, and in exchange for the loan, we agreed to do a restoration. We paid about $20,000 for restoration and installation. They gave us a loan through 2014, but we hope to extend that.”
Zollo said that the sculpture is mounted more securely than it was in Sacramento, and the location is pretty well-trafficked and well-lighted, so he hopes it won’t be vandalized.
Ultimately, the city would like to put the two baseball players on display on some city land near the entrance to Raley Field – the region’s minor league baseball stadium. That site isn’t ready yet, though, because it’s under construction and sparsely developed nearby.
“This location (at West Capitol) was selected more as a temporary location – we wanted a place where there is a lot of activity.”
The piece is called, simply, “Baseball Players,” and it was designed by artist Lisa Reinertson of Davis. The two figures, who are somewhat crouched over, stand about eight to nine feet tall.
“These are pretty substantial figures,” said Zollo. “They weigh quite a bit – around 800 pounds apiece.”
The Luckenbills are aware that the statues have been moved, and approve of the loan, he said. The artist may not yet be aware that her baseball players are having a game in the middle of West Sacramento’s main street.
An attempt to reach artist Reinertson wasn’t immediately successful.
EDITOR’S NOTE, 5/23/2011: After we went to press, artist Lisa Reinertson emailed us a response to an inquiry made by the News-Ledger. We had asked her whom she used as models for this artwork. We heard from citizens who thought the “hitter” might have been modeled on Rickey Henderson or Felipe Alou.
The artist responded:
“The artwork was meant to be a more universal portrayal of a pitcher and batter and not anyone’s particular portraits. “To answer your question- I used models who were baseball players up at Chico State where I was teaching at the time. (1991?) They were both assistant coaches, one a pitcher and one a batter. Since the stadium the sculptures were originally planned for was to have a new baseball team, they were not to be portraits of any famous players from existing teams elsewhere. I did go and see professional games as I did my homework on the sculpture and I did look at and get inspiration from images of stances that may look familiar to those in the know.
“My concept for the sculpture was to capture the psychological battle between the pitcher and batter as they are about to throw the ball and strike it back. I wanted to portray the physical tension of each player winding up and ready- so the exact moment before the movement forward for each player was the moment I focused on capturing.”
Copyright News-Ledger 2011