Tampa Museum of Art

Having a Ball

On view March 1 through July 22

George Sosnak’s Striking Portraits from America’s Pastime

George Sosnak
(American, 1924–1992)
Roger Maris, 1962
India ink on manufactured baseball
Courtesy of a private collector
Photo by Ed Pollard, Chrysler Museum of Art photographer

 

George Sosnak
(American, 1924–1992)
Umpire with Managers, 1958
India ink on manufactured baseball
Courtesy of a private collector
Photo by Ed Pollard, Chrysler Museum of Art photographer

 

George Sosnak
(American, 1924–1992)
Yogi Berra, 1980s
India ink on manufactured baseball
On loan courtesy of a private collector
Photo by Ed Pollard, Chrysler Museum of Art photographer

The Tampa Museum of Art is pleased to present Having a Ball: Striking Portraits from America’s Pastime by George Sosnak. One of the most beloved and best known folk art painters of baseball, George Sosnak (1924-1992) was a lifelong, passionate fan of the game. He parlayed his enthusiasm for the sport into two concurrent careers: first as a Minor League umpire, and eventually as an artist, meticulously painting baseballs decorated with the images and arcane statistics so dear to fans of the game.

George Sosnak
Portrait by Ian Lefebvre Photography
Courtesy of David A. Angelo

In the 1950s, a young female fan asked Sosnak for a portrait of her favorite player on a ball, and thus began an almost 40-year career, largely avocational, of producing colorful and increasingly intricate, themed baseballs. Some celebrate particular moments, some honor legendary players, and other mark championship teams.

Sosnak’s final, self-chosen challenge was to create a ball for each player in the Baseball Hall of Fame, recreating his Hall of Fame plaque as well as an overview of the player’s career in glorious detail and color. In the end, Sosnak is thought to have begun some 3,000 baseballs, and to have finished about 800. Having a Ball includes 53 Goerge Sosnak artworks – 43 baseballs, and 10 works on paper.

Having a Ball: George Sosnak’s Striking Portraits from America’s Pastime was organized by the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia.