This painting was a created as a commission for the good folks at the National Pastime Museum (nationalpastimemuseum.com) and painted over the course of about 4 weeks. The painting itself is 18" x 22", gouache on paper. This piece really tries to explain a bit about the Merkle Boner, or Merkle's Boner - a famous play (or mis-play) that took place at the end of the 1908 season at the Polo Grounds in NY in a game between the NY Giants and the Chicago Cubs. The controversial play came amidst one of the greatest seasons in baseball history. "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" was written and recorded, and became a hit. The country was in full baseball fever. This single play, in the middle of a tense pennant race and the ruling on it by Ump O'Day upheld by NL President Harry Pulliam, fueled arguments that go on to this day. Fred Merkle, at age 19 and starting a game for the first time in his career, was so pilloried by the Press, that a shadow was cast over him for the rest of his life. If you need more proof that baseball was a life and death affair, you need look no further than NL President Harry Pullman. Pulliam was so harried by the Press that many say that Merkle Boner and the controversy surrounding it were strong contributors to Pulliam choosing to take his own life at the end of season. The 1908 Cubs would go on to win the World Series (and not one since), and this iteration of the Polo Grounds shown would burn down three years later to be rebuilt with it's more familiar steel structure.
Thanks to the good people at the National Pastime Museum!
Music: "Smokey Mokes" (Holzmann) performed by Tony Parenti's Ragtimers and Ragtime Gang