The murder of Washington Redskins’ safety Sean Taylor reminded me of an illo about him I did a couple of years back for the Washington City Paper. Seems Taylor was a bit of a troublemaker on the field, and had made headlines for spitting in another player’s face. The City Paper piece about him was called “Dishonorable Discharge” — clever, don’tcha think? It’s not the most flattering tribute to the tragic death of a professional athlete, but here’s that old illo:
Ex-Yankees player and broadcaster Phil Rizzuto passed away today. I listened to The Scooter during my prime baseball-fan days, as an adolescent, and he shaped my feeling for the game. I loved the way he combined a passion for baseball with a clear awareness that it was just a game, not to be taken too seriously.
He was known for his distinctive “Holy Cow!” exclamation, and I also loved how he called people “huckleberry.” During his prime as a Yankees broadcaster, he teamed up with classic straight man Bill White. They made a great duo, the wise-cracking, diminutive old Italian-American bantering with the tall, distinguished African-American.
During broadcasts, Phil would get so involved in anecdotes, stories, or noting fans’ birthdays and anniversaries, that he would forget all about the game. The resulting non-sequitors made for classic TV and radio. And if a summer thunderstorm passed by the Stadium, he would literally run out of the broadcast booth to find shelter!
Years ago, the Village Voice took a few classic Phil monologues and transcribed them into poetic form. It was pure brilliance. Eventually, Tom Peyer & Hart Seely put together a whole book of his “selected verse.” Here are some of my favorite Rizzuto “poems”:
In the last week, I’ve gotten two one-day illustration assignments. Other than when you’re working for a daily paper, this is extraordinarily rare. Like, usually when an art director gives me a “quick turnaround” project, they may have “only” two weeks before the deadline. Not usually a problem.
Well, last Thursday night, at 8pm, I got my first-ever assignment from Time magazine (!), for a piece due 11pm Friday! Barely 24 hours. Plus, it was for a very dry topic (527 committees and the Federal Election Commission) and they had no ideas for the illustration. AND I was leaving for SPX the next morning. Oy!
Well, I got the job done, brainstorming and coming up with seven sketches at 1am Thursday, and doing the complete, full-color illo after I got to Bethesda on Friday afternoon. It meant I lost a full day at the con with Pekar, but, oh well, the pay was great, and it was for fricken Time. (The irony is that tho’ the illo was supposed to run this week, the story ended up getting bumped. So look for it next week…)
I thought that was a one-time thing until I got a call yesterday from a regular client, The Washington City Paper.
In honor of the upcoming baseball season, I thought it was time to dust this one off.
Seems when I was 13 or so, I felt compelled to draw the home & away uniforms of every MLB team, as well as alternate jerseys (an obscure practice in those days). I was obsessed with baseball, especially with the Giants — this was back when I lived in San Fran — and their distinctive orange & black. It was incredibly satisfying to get out the markers and fill the pages with all those colorful combinations of logos, stripes, and numerals.