If you weren’t a Kansas City Royals fan a few weeks ago, chances are you’re rooting for the home team now. Kansas City residents officially have baseball fever and local artist Marty Pyle of Overland Park is no exception.
Actually, Pyle had been brushing up on the sport before the Royals even secured a spot in the playoffs. This is because back in July, Pyle was asked to make baseball history—literally.
In honor of the next All-Star Game in Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum needed some “All-Star” art. Pyle was just the man for the job and he went straight to work. After much collaboration with the museum, Pyle decided to pay homage to an unforgettable play that went down during the 1970 All-Star Game at the Cincinnati Reds stadium.
Yes, we’re talking about the time when Reds outfielder Pete Rose barreled into Cleveland Indians catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run of the game. If you weren’t born yet, need a refresher or just recently became a baseball fan, go ahead and check out the clip.
“It’s controversial, but that’s how Rose played the game,” Pyle says.
Pyle will finish up the sculpture, which shows Rose charging at the home plate (pre-collision), using the “lost-wax method.” Then the bronze beauty will be on display at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum in January of 2015. This will give baseball enthusiasts plenty of time to see it before the next All-Star game in July.
While Pyle isn’t in the habit of recreating wild baseball plays, representational art is nothing knew for him. In fact, he prefers it.
“I like making sculptures as realistic as possible,” Pyle says. “I like sculpting people with lots of depth and history. It’s a challenge.”
A few years ago, he found himself creating a rather large chunk of American history—a 9-foot tall bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln. The sculpture was unveiled on December 3, 2009, at Leavenworth City Hall on the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s speech in Leavenworth, Kansas. Pyle usually works off of photographs, but not without first doing his homework. You can bet your shiniest penny that he learned as much as he could about the 16th president of the United States before he went to work.
“[In the statue] Abe is holding a copy of the Leavenworth newspaper from the day he was there. I knew he was a well-read man,” Pyle says. “And he often used his top hat as a brief case so I put papers in his hat.”
Pyle is such a talented sculpter, it’s hard to believe he’s only been at it for five years. Up until recently, he’d had a brush in his hand and painting had been his primary focus. This is why he can’t stress enough the importance of taking a new class or joining a club regardless of your age or degree.
“I started sculpting when I was 49 years old,” Pyle says. “When you’re in your 40s or 50s, you can change your life by trying something new.”
His favorite project so far?
“The one I’m working on—it’s a secret,” Pyle says.
He says in one year it will be unveiled in a Midwestern city. Hopefully that Midwestern city will also have a World Series berth under its belt.