High Noon at Jacob's Field

A portrait of Mike Hargrove

Summer 1998
The best model I ever had

I was at the Cleveland Indians Club House in Jacob's Field Baseball Stadium (now named Progressive Field) for a meeting with the team's Golden Glove all-star shortstop Omar Vizquel. I was going to take Omar to meet some of his fellow countryman -Venezuelan performers from the San Jose Ballet at Cleveland's Playhouse Square. In fact, Omar drove us to the theater in his new Porsche, a recent purchase from another baseball leyend: -José Canseco. The ride was a hoot as Omar was still not very skilled at driving stick-shift and the fact that he was not carrying a single cent to pay for parking (he still owes me five bucks!).

During previous visits to the Club House, I had been impressed by Mike Hargrove, the team's manager. In a place full of rowdy loud and child-like men, he was like a Zen master -quite, confident, always in control. In this world of male testosterone with the likes of Albert Bell, Carlos Baerga, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome, Mike was the law. His laconic demeanor and the way he moved reminded me of all the great cowboy movie stars like John Wayne and Gary Cooper. I felt he would be a good subject for a painting so I asked him to pose for a picture and he graciously accepted.


Norman Rockwell painted John Wayne in 1977 doing his classic pose.

So just before practice, we moved away from the noise into a supply room to take a few reference pictures. He asked me what I had in mind and I told him: -"A John Wayne pose, hands on hips." And that was it. To this day I have to say that Mike Hargrove was the best model I ever had. He got the pose right on his first try and all I took was one photograph. This was like getting a hole-in-one playing golf.


High Noon at Jacob's Field. 1998. Artist's Oils on canvas. 46 inches high (91.4 cm).

The result was this oil painting: -High Noon at Jacobs Field. I portrayed Mike Hargrove standing tall in front of the Indian dugout with the sun at noon, like a western hero from the movies of old. I did the painting over a couple of days with an extreme economy of paint (only three or four thin layers) since it was more of a practice exercise to satisfy my own whims. I never exhibited the painting, and a year later, I donated it for a fundraiser of the local Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

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