A Baseball Reliquary Installation
The Baseball Reliquary concluded its 2004 exhibition schedule with “Baseball Ballistic,” an installation presented as part of NewTown’s exhibition, TEN!, at the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, California, from November 14, 2004 to January 2, 2005.
The 2004 major league baseball season offered numerous examples of ballplayers who were unable to control their anger and whose emotional outbursts included slamming bare fists into cement walls, busting up water coolers and toilet stalls with baseball bats, and throwing a chair into an unprotected grandstand. The issue of anger gone awry is not new to the grand old game; in fact, much like peanuts and crackerjack, it has been a staple down through the years. From youth leagues to the big leagues, from living rooms to baseball stadiums across America, ballplayers and fans have turned good sportsmanship on its ear, with unbridled passions and frustrations exploding into antisocial and often violent behavior. For this installation, the Baseball Reliquary invited four artists to explore the nature of anger as it has been revealed through baseball; all four have been regularly featured in Baseball Reliquary installations and exhibitions and are represented by one or more works in the Reliquary’s permanent collection.
The artists featured in “Baseball Ballistic” were:
- Michael Guccione, a Pasadena-based artist and graduate of the Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis in 1967. He honed his skills as a billboard painter in the late 1970s and ‘80s and currently works for a small interactive entertainment company in Glendale.
- Greg Jezewski, a former semi-professional baseball player and a graduate of the Otis Art Institute. His paintings and assemblages make extensive use of visual puns and humor.
- William Scaff, a multi-media and assemblage artist, and a Pasadena expatriate now in the Northern Mother Lode.
- Keith Ullrich, a Pasadena-born artist and musician, and the founder of the now somnambulate O Tela Group, a loose association of collaborative artists formed in the early 1980s. Although he has lived and worked in Northern California and the East Coast, he prefers the San Gabriel Valley, where he now resides with his wife and two children.
“Based on the August 22, 1965 incident at Candlestick Park in a game involving the Dodgers and Giants. Dodger All-Star catcher John Roseboro decided to take retaliation into his own hands after future Hall-of-Fame Giants pitcher Juan Marichal had previously knocked down two Dodgers. Marichal was at bat when Roseboro began aiming his throwbacks to pitcher Sandy Koufax uncomfortably close to Marichal’s ear. A heated discussion took place and when Roseboro removed his catcher’s mask, Marichal tomahawked him on the noggin, opening up a gash that would require 14 stitches. A brawl immediately followed which, coincidentally, lasted 14 minutes. Not coincidentally, 14 nuclei were used to make up the bat’s core.
“In his 1978 autobiography, Glory Days with the Dodgers and Other Days with Others, John Roseboro commented, ‘The thing I’m remembered best for is the Juan Marichal incident. It’s too bad, because a ballplayer would like to be remembered for something better than a bloody brawl, but that’s what everyone always remembers, even those who weren’t there or who weren’t even following baseball back in 1965.’
“It should be noted that the two later became friends and that Roseboro was instrumental in Marichal’s induction into the Hall of Fame by publicly forgiving him.”
— Michael Guccione, 2004
“I went to a Dodger game with some people from work. I wore my favorite shirt to stir up the ire of the fans and to annoy my co-workers. Halfway through the game, the peanut vendor came by shouting, ‘Get ya peanuts!’ My friend sitting next to me gave him a couple of bucks. The vendor looked at my shirt, winked at me, and tossed the guy a bag of peanuts. He opened it and tried to crack one open. They had clearly been tampered with. I decided to retire the shirt as well as cut out NUTS from my diet.”
— Greg Jezewski, 2004
“My uncle, Harold Ray, loved baseball. Although he wasn’t really my uncle, but a close family friend, he seemed so much a part of the family because he lived close by and was always around during the time my brother and I were growing up in Southern California.
“Uncle Ray was like a big bear. That’s what I remember about him. Kind of like Phil Harris in The Jungle Book. A big, easygoing, friendly bear.
“Harold Ray was a big Dodger fan, too — he absolutely loved it when the Dodgers came to Los Angeles in 1958 from Brooklyn, where he grew up. In fact, I think he loved the Dodgers just about as much as he loved the Numechron Tymeter desk clock that he bought that same year. He thought it was ‘futuristic,’ and he was crazy for the way the numbers would flip over, like a scoreboard counting off runs.
“I also think that all this is why it was such a shock for me, as a young boy, to see the cherished clock sail across Uncle Ray’s living room one warm summer afternoon during what I now imagine was a rather-heated Dodger game. What play, or what call, caused the outburst I don’t remember. What I do remember is how red Uncle Ray’s face was — and how he’d become, for the first and only time I’d ever seen him, a very big, and very angry bear.
“The damaged Numechron, frozen at 4:52:20, remained a couple of years on Uncle Ray’s end table, next to his favorite chair, then moved to the mantle. Finally, it made its way to our garage where age, heat, and time itself took their toll on the rest of the casing.
“I also remember that for a number of years after Uncle Ray’s outburst, a cry of ‘Four fifty-two!’ from either my brother or I meant ‘heads-up!’ because something (usually a water balloon) was sailing your way.
“Uncle Ray passed away in his sleep in 1984.”
— Keith Ullrich, 2004
All photographs courtesy of Larry Goren