As far as baseball images go, John Iacano’s 1972 picture of Dick Allen ranks among the most iconic: A cigarette hangs loosely from Allen’s mouth, and he casually juggles three baseballs as he walks through the White Sox dugout. It was a spontaneous moment, and Iacano lifted his camera to capture the scene. Later he would recall the moment, thinking “Holy crap, this is perfect.” And so, baseball’s answer to American Gothic was printed on a Sports Illustrated’s cover.
I’m really excited to bring John Iacano’s image to life in a different medium. Colorful characters like Dick Allen are a joy to draw because their strong personalities shine through in everything they do. The way they swagger, swing a bat, or (in this case) juggle displays their attitudes toward life and the game of baseball. Sports art, like photography, can offer insight about these ballplayers, and inspire us to be better and work harder.
And then, once they’re gone from this Earth, our baseball heroes can continue to live on.
Watch the artwork above come to life:
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