The artwork by renowned artist Bill Purdom that graces the book cover features the single-team stars in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. They are depicted in uniform as they appeared during the heighth of their careers. For Purdom, the challenge was to bring each star to life in a unique way.
“We wanted to show Bill Mazeroski with his glove since he’s famous for his fielding, and show Sandy Koufax just holding a ball like the regular guy he was. It is an honor to have been asked to paint this group of single franchise Hall of Fame stars.”
An Early Love of Art and Baseball
William Scahill Purdom was born in Charleston, West Virginia, on October 27, 1953 and grew up in Wyoming, Ohio as a Cincinnati Reds fan. By age 9 his artwork was attracting local attention. After graduating from Auburn University in 1975 with a degree in visual design, he spent the next 19 years working and living in New York City. He started working at Whistl'n Dixie Studio where his art for Bloomingdales gained him international attention.
Used by every major advertising agency in New York, Purdom has also illustrated billboards, movie posters, album covers and worked on national campaigns for Mercedes Benz, Nikon, Panasonic, American Express, and three major television networks. He was the first artist allowed by Steven Spielberg to paint the character “E.T.” (in a national campaign for McDonald's). While living in New York he was a major contributor to The New York Times and his work has appeared in many magazines, among them Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, Fortune, Time, Esquire, Sport and National Lampoon.
After 12 years of award winning advertising and editorial illustration, Purdom transitioned to the fine arts field. Since 1989 he has painted to date 78 great moments in baseball, including ten first pitch paintings of the various new ballparks that have opened around the country. His baseball lithographs have been seen on the television show Seinfeld and the HBO series Arliss. His originals hang in private collections worldwide and lithographs of all 78 of his paintings are a part of the permanent collection of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
At the Top of Topps and Baseball Art
Purdom has become the most prolific artist in the history of the Topps Company, Inc. To date he has painted 340 baseball, football and basketball cards with projects scheduled for the next several years. Due to Purdom's uncanny ability to capture likenesses, his portraits are highly sought and in great demand.
Purdom was a technical advisor for Billy Crystal's Mantle and Maris movie “61”. On April 15, 2004, Major League Baseball, in an unprecedented combination of art appreciation and heritage celebration handed out 250,000 copies of Purdom's painting of Jackie Robinson's first at-bat to lucky fans in ballparks across America.
Are you able to identify each of the players in Bill Purdom’s portrait?
Front Row: Barry Larkin, Travis Jackson, Honus Wagner, Don Drysdale, Carl Hubbell, Craig Biggio, Jim Rice, Roy Campanella, Roberto Clemente, Brooks Robinson, Ernie Banks, Johnny Bench, Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, Al Kaline, Joe DiMaggio.
Middle Row: Bill Mazeroski, Bobby Doerr, Red Faber, Pie Traynor, Luke Appling, Whitey Ford, Willie Stargell, Robin Yount, Mike Schmidt, Mel Ott, Addie Joss, Kirby Puckett, Bob Feller, Derek Jeter, Jim Palmer, Tony Gwynn, George Brett.
Back Row: Charlie Gehringer, Ted Lyons, Earle Combs, Ross Youngs, Bill Dickey, Bill Terry, Fred Clarke, Phil Rizzuto, Bob Lemon, Mariano Rivera, Carl Yastrzemski, Bob Gibson, Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken, Jr., Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Walter Johnson, Stan Musial.