During the birthday celebration of Jose Mesa's son, Sandy showed me a baseball card. It had his picture on it showing his new mask. For those of you who are not into baseball, All-star Sandy Alomar, older brother of All-star Roberto Alomar, is one of the greatest catchers in baseball history. Along with his buddy -star closing-pitcher Jose Mesa, Sandy played for the Cleveland Indians and helped put the team back on the map.
I had decorated Carlos Baerga's house and done some of the paintings. During the months I worked there I also got to know most of the Latino players. I think at the time they made up half of the team. Back then Omar Vizquel was the young kid on the club. All the other guys kid him around and called him: -"El nene lindo" (the pretty boy). They were a "Latin" bunch of characters and I could write a book of their antics.
Sandy wanted a painting of him and Robbie as a gift for their mother. But at the time Robbie played for another team and was out of Cleveland. So Sandy asked me if I could make a painting of him and his new mask to place it in his living room. So I took the baseball card, took some pictures and wrote a few observations -noting his skin tone, eye colour, and so on.
Bases loaded -a portrait of Sandy Alomar Jr. Oil on canvas. 48-inches wide (122cm)
Six weeks later I delivered his oil painting done on a 48-inches wide canvas. The fact that it was an extreme close-up of him made it look even larger. Sandy loved it. In the painting I chose to emphasize the moment of fear in a catcher's life when the bases are loaded and the next action can win or loose a game. His expression is tense but focused, his eyes bloodshot but alert, his brow covered with perspiration... but darn it -doesn't his new mask look good!
While painting I kept thinking of a Roman warrior starring at the enemy through the eye slits of his enclosing helm right before the moment of battle. It was hard not to get excited. Being a history buff, and avid fencer, and sucker for any sword movies, it does not take much to set off my imagination. During an Indians game at Jacob's Field, Kristy Alomar -Sandy's wife, came to sit by me and told me how Sandy used to get up in the middle of the night and sit alone on the sofa staring at his painting. An artist can not get a better compliment than that.
By the comments I received over the years, Sandy is not the only one captivated by it. To some viewers it has come to represent something other than baseball, perhaps something primal in all of us; something that is universal. Who knows. But I think that something could be that fine line between foreboding and exhilaration, which we all have experienced, when in an instance one's life can change forever in the game of destiny.