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Where Have All The Baseball Artists Gone

It’s unclear why the art-baseball connection is less well-known today than the literary one. What is clear is that sometime around the 1980s, baseball and art were no longer on such friendly terms. It may have been the fault of the era’s Culture Wars, when, for a good fifteen or twenty years, art and artists were a political commodity that liberals and conservatives batted around as though with a fungo bat. Also in the 1980s, baseball stepped up its efforts to control use of its trademarked images. A special wing of the league, Major League Baseball Properties Inc., regularly sued game-makers, toymakers, trading card companies, restaurants, clothing and apparel manufacturers, and anyone caught using images of current and former baseball teams and players without "express written permission." Because of these social factors, along with the era’s transition from analog photography to digital (and the accompanying loss of archival photos), the twenty years at the end of the last century were dark ones for baseball—at least in terms of artistic representations of the sport.

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