Opie Otterstad, the Academy’s 2006 Sport Artist of the Year, donated two unique pieces of artwork to the American Sports Art Museum and Archives during his recent annual trek to baseball’s spring training in Florida.
The donated works include a portrait of American golfer Ben Hogan, who is considered one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Otterstad uniquely painted Hogan on golfing tees. Hogan won nine career professional major championships to rank fourth all-time and he is one of only five golfers to have won all four major championships currently open to professionals. The Hogan piece was the first of 27 similar portraits of golfers on tees that Otterstad created.
Another painting donated by Otterstad, “The Take,” is painted on fence posts and depicts the eight Black Sox players involved in throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. In “The Take,” Otterstad painted the players according to their heights to coincide with the first eight notes of the unofficial anthem of baseball, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” The players appear like bar notes on a sheet of music of the song, whose first and eighth words are “take.”
Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich thanked Otterstad for the clever pieces that came from the artist’s Austin, Texas, home. Both works are currently on display in ASAMA’s Main Gallery in Daphne, Ala., which holds the largest collection of sport art in the world with nearly 2,000 pieces. The sport art museum is open free to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
Rosandich says Otterstad’s paintings will become part of an exhibit beginning in August at the Wiregrass Museum of Art in Dothan, Ala. It will feature seven of the Academy’s Sports Artist of the Year who are from the South.
“The art pieces of the great golfer Ben Hogan and the Black Sox Scandal that almost brought down baseball are very special,” Dr. Rosandich says. “This is a very significant donation, and I sincerely thank Otterstad for his generosity.”
Otterstad, who was born in Texas in 1970, is a prolific painter of historic athletic events. His career includes more than 800 paintings since 1993 of the world of professional sports stars and celebrities that include portraits of individuals and teams alike at their most celebrated moments.
As part of his visit to the Grapefruit League for spring training, Otterstad reports he will unveil in Jupiter, Fla., to the St. Louis Cardinal a 70-foot by 50-foot commissioned painting depicting the team’s championship in the 2011 World Series over the Texas Rangers.
Otterstad, who is a huge baseball fan, says his idea for “The Take” came about during his ongoing research on his favorite player of all-time, Hall of Famer Tris Speaker. Otterstad is known as one of the top experts on the legendary centerfielder who played for the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians. Otterstad even named his son, Tris.
“I’ve done a lot of research on that time period of baseball,” Otterstad says. “The history is fascinating to me.”