Beckett Publications Story -
did you get started doing Sports Art?)
Checklist of Beckett Artwork >
the late 80s I was the Art Director at WUAB-TV 43 in Parma, Ohio
which is a suburb of Cleveland. Channel 43 produced and aired the
Cleveland Indians games. They were also the home of the Cleveland
Cavaliers. Since the main reason for wanting to broadcast the Indians
games was for the station to make money, we often had to design
literature that was used to assist the Sales Department and the
Promotion Department in succeeding in their challenges to sell air
time and get high ratings so the air time could sell for a higher
price. Being that I have always liked baseball alot and I've always
loved drawing faces and figures it was a natural solution for me
to create illustrations when there was a need for a piece of Sales
literature. Quite often the photos we'd have available left alot
to be desired anyway. So I accumulated a small portfolio of samples
that I had usually done at home on my own time since there was no
time at the office for such menial tasks as "scribbling"
all day long.
second phase of the story develops as the trading card industry
is really heating up and card shops are popping up on every corner
of every street in every city. A pack of Topps cost 50 cents and
still had gum inside. Along comes the time for another Spring training
season which also means that all of us at the TV station are getting
all the graphics ready for the first Indians broadcast. Our favorite
part was working on the opening graphics that came on at the beginning
of the game. This particular year, 1989, someone had the idea of
using old and new baseball cards floating by as graphic elements
along with other baseball related items. One of the other artists
said he still had a bunch of cards from when he was a kid. He wasn't
currently a collector but he had just put them up in a box as a
keepsake from his youth. We had a blast looking at his cards. Some
other people in the station remembered they had some some stashed
away too. There were many familiar looking cards that brought back
alot of memories. My favorite was the '68 Topps with the burlap
background. I remember having more than a few Carl Yastrzemskis,
both his regular player card and the ones that heralded his Triple
Crown Season. I was a huge Red Sox fan as a kid. Aaaaanyway. In
all of our fun and reminiscing someone (I think from the Sales Department)
says, "You know, I hear these things are worth some money..."
Well, that got everyone's attention and eventually our curiosity
got the better of us. I volunteered to stop at the local card shop
and see what they could tell me. They said "It's all in here"
and handed me the most recent copy of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly.
In addition to the pricing information on cards from the early to
mid 1900s up to today, they had articles on other aspects of collecting
cards and articles on popular players. One other thing that stood
out to me was that every issue had illustrations on the inside front
and back covers. I thought "I should send them some of the
stuff I've done for the TV station". Eventually I did and got
a positive response. I just happened to contact them at the right
time. When I first heard of them they only had a Baseball magazine.
By the time I got some samples to them they were planning three
more, Football, Basketball and Hockey. So I got busy working on
players from those sports since they were in need of artwork to
fill those covers. Although my first published cover for them was
Carlton Fisk in the June 1990 Baseball issue #63.
still have alot of the original pieces of art. Beckett would only
buy the First North American Serial Rights to publish the artwork,
I got to keep the originals! I have two photographic copies that
have been autographed. One by Roger Staubach. He wanted a copy for
himself as well. The other by Sandy Alomar. Sandy Also wanted copies
for his brother Robbie and his father. I've never met any of the
players I've painted. That's the closest I've come.
this gave me alot of exposure to the trading card industry. Upper
Deck, one of the growing card companies, saw my work being published
regularly and commissioned me to do illustrations to be reproduced
on their trading cards.
> More about Upper