Ballpark Extras: The Art of Baseball and Minimalist Ballparks
With this baseball season in full swing, I thought I would finally make a post about art. Yes… art. More specifically, baseball art. Aside from collecting baseball caps from each ballpark, I also possess a small collection of various art pieces having to do with baseball. Like many kids growing up, I had those awesome posters of certain players growing up for both baseball and basketball. The first major art piece I hung in my old room is the five Dodgers who won consecutive Rookie of the Year awards from 1992 to 1996 with an image of Jackie Robinson in the foreground. The reason for that was Jack Roosevelt Robinson won the inaugural RoY award, and now that very award is named after Jackie. Oh, Robinson will figure into this post a little later.
Nowadays, my baseball art consists of actual works that isn’t just a picture of an athlete, but more reflecting my travels, my memories… something that actually means something to me. This post is mostly about a good artist friend of mine who goes by “S. Preston,” although most people call him Preston (I call him Mike). I first stumbled onto his site because he made awesome hockey wallpapers of all things! Working for the Ontario Reign (which is an affiliate of the Kings), I wanted a Kings style background for my phone. But the more I delved into his website, I saw this unbelievable art work that I knew I had to have on my wall. It was a piece depicting ALL thirty ballparks which is called his “Minimalist MLB Ballparks,” a masterpiece that hangs above my desk so I get to see it whenever I’m working on something… like this blog post. I went for the gusto and purchased the biggest size on the website because, I either had to go big or go home…
After e-mailing him back and forth a couple times about the hockey wallpapers, I noticed that he was local, so offering some kindness in addition to buying the baseball print, I invited him to check out some hockey in Ontario (since I get free tickets for guests). He accepted my offer, and we got to chatting more about hockey. I thought the story would end there, but it didn’t.
It turned out that he had a fully framed print that was featured at some show or something, but there was a nick in the corner… so he offered that at no extra charge! I was ready to receive the framed print… but he needed a framed print to present to MLB! I was perfectly fine with waiting since I figured it would be totally worth the wait. Fast forward another couple weeks, and he came over to my neck of the woods to formally present me with possibly my favorite art piece that I’ve ever owned. I did like the inscription that read, “Thanks for your patience!” I’ve had people look at that hanging near my desk asking why that inscription was there. In addition, this print looked perfect next to my map of the ballparks of MLB. Having them next to each other seems too fitting as they are both like a beautiful artistic scrapbook of my travels. To me, having this serve as a reminder to my ballpark tour is beyond priceless.
From there, we’ve developed a cool friendship that has involved hockey games, some memorable baseball games, and further acts of kindness. My sister has won a neat Disney princess piece from him that was specific to Jackie Robinson Day, and we ended up watching some of THAT game together. In fact, he came over to our section to visit our little group, and we even have some video of him in action which you can see below!
The ultimate act of kindness, I thought, revolved around the All-Star Game in San Diego. I already knew I would be attending Fan Fest and the Sunday festivities thanks to some free tickets! Score on that one! I told Mike that my sister and I would be coming down and we wanted to support him and his booth in the Art of Baseball section. In addition to just supporting his booth, I knew I wanted an All-Star Game artwork from him because it was an event I was attending, and it looked fantastic. After texting back and forth a few days, he told me that he had an extra parking spot to spare for the event, so I wouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for parking. We immediately took him up on the offer. Because of his kindness, my sister and I were able to really explore the FanFest and check everything out, including the Art of Baseball. I ended up buying a bunch of artwork for myself and friends as gifts.
His booth was impressive as he had all the mascots from his latest collection, and several pieces of San Diego artwork, including a stadium I had visited years ago… the Murph! He also had books of every ballpark, some heritage ballparks, and other miscellaneous work including a little snippet of his “Ballpark Princess” collection. His associate, Ian, was also there giving his insight on the artwork. They both did brilliantly bringing in people and I had a blast hanging out at the artist booths for a while. Mike then told me to look around and check out some of the other artists there.
One of those artists really impressed me, and it was at the booth called “Prinstant Replays.” The founder, Hunter Mize, was there giving fans a glimpse of his modern artwork depicting famous plays, moments, and events. As far as baseball stuff, there were moments that I recalled just by looking at the field and the number. For example, I immediately knew Bartolo Colon’s majestic home run when I saw the print. There was also a plethora of Padres prints, but I didn’t bite on anything until I returned on Tuesday, which was the All-Star Game day.
On that Tuesday, Hunter and his crew had a last-day sale going on which included a free team ASG jersey print. However, that was NOT what caught my eye. See, the day before, I was still reeling from witnessing the best display of power I had ever seen via the Home Run Derby (which was the previous night). Giancarlo Stanton belted a record 61 home runs in just one derby! Many of those were mammoth shots that were well over 450 feet. The PR guys jumped at the opportunity to make a Stanton print of ALL 61 of his home runs at the Derby. This was smart of them to do because they only made the one print to show off at the Fan Fest the final day… and people were impressed by the sleekness of the print, and the quickness that it came out. This just proves that infographics are sexy. Of course, I had to ask if that print was for sale, and they said it was for display only. Not giving up, I asked if I could get a print of it and it would be sent to my house at a later date. Apparently, I was the first person to order that very print! Because of the sale, I also got the free ASG print. Score!
Going back to the “S Preston” table, I made sure my purchased ASG Gaslamp print was ready to go. He asked if I wanted a specific number print. Knowing that the obvious #19 would be gone, I opted to get the one with my birth year on it… and it was totally worth it! All three of those prints I picked up at Fan Fest hang proudly in my room not only because the artists are great guys and I believe in their work, but because they commemorated one of my favorite sports weekends that I ever attended. They serve as a reminder of life experiences that I won’t soon forget.
But this post is far from done! Mike and I had texted back and forth about attending some more games together later in the season. As it turns out, we hung out the entire night watching a Blue Jays/Angels game, met up when the Brewers came to Chavez Ravine, and even hung out a bit after that game. What is always entertaining to me is watching a master artist at work and giving great joy to fans around him with his ballpark princess giveaways.
The last game we attended together was in October to see my Dodgers battle the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS. Yes, we even saw him hard at work during a big playoff game in LA, but the drawings he made were pretty awesome. When the Cubs began pulling ahead late in the game, he began drawing an awesome Harry Caray ballpark princess. As it turns out, the Cubs ended up winning that game and went on to win the World Series…. which he attended.
Another stellar act of kindness was during the holidays last year when he was doing a holiday giveaway of a ballpark princess. However, this was not intended for me. This was going to two of my long-time swing dancing friends whose daughters are major Disney and Angels fans. We met up at my place of work (Citizens Business Bank Arena) after a game and he presented me with said artwork. Not long after that, I was able to give this piece to my friends… and the looks on their daughters’ faces were absolutely priceless! It’s this thoughtfulness that makes Mike one of the best artists around, and his love of sports that puts him in the elite Hall of Fame category. Thanks a bunch, buddy!
I will close with this bit of news: Mike (S. Preston) wants to open up a legit artwork gallery in the heart of Anaheim, but he needs your help! He has started a Kickstarter campaign and it’s done extremely well, but he needs YOUR help to get over that final “stretch goal” hurdle! With so little time left, he needs just a little more to get there. Many of his rewards are very affordable and I know many baseball fans out there would love some of his incredible artwork in their homes. Heck, my dog loves the artwork, too!
So, check out the link below and help him out!
Meanwhile, I’m off to admire my artwork and can’t wait to add more pieces to the wall! With the Dodgers well on their way to the postseason, I’m sure there will be more posts to come about my Dodgers and their chances to finally win their first title in three decades. Yes, it really has been that long. Have a great rest of the season, and I hope to see you at the ballpark… and the new baseball art gallery!