Splendid Sculpture: Artist Captures Ted Williams in Bronze
LONDON (AP) _ It’s taken a cricket fan who’s never been to a baseball game to capture Ted Williams in bronze, uncoiling on one of his 521 career home runs.
``It didn’t really occur to be me that it would be a problem to do a sportsman I’d never met in a sport that I haven’t participated in or seen,″ said English sculptor Tim Taylor.
Taylor, 29, is gaining a reputation in Britain for his sports bronzes, his best known of which depicts legendary English jockey Lester Piggott. He said he’s moved into baseball to get noticed in the United States.
``I chose baseball because it’s a sport akin to cricket and it’s a sport where you can get a lot of movement into the sculpture,″ Taylor said.
``I’m a keen cricket fan, but I’ve never done cricket, I really don’t think there’s much of a market in the UK for people who want to buy sculptures of cricketers,″ he added.
The 9 1/2-inch miniature bronze of the Hall of Famer, to be unveiled Dec. 15 at a fund-raising dinner in Boston, has won high praise from Williams himself, who was given the first casting.
Plans call for producing a series of 406 _ recalling Williams’ .406 batting average in 1941.
``He told us this is the best he’s ever seen (of himself),″ said American-born Mike Ross, a London resident who collaborated with Taylor to produce the sculpture.
``Fop me, this is squaring the circle,″ Ross said. ``Growing up with Ted Williams as a hero _ now to have this happen in England. I can’t quite express the sentiment for me, but it’s there.″
Ross, 55, is a Williams junkie, a native of Portland, Maine, who grew up a Boston Red Sox fan and has lived for the last three decades in Britain.
He founded the Britain-based Bobby Thomson chapter of the Society of American Baseball Research, has covered baseball for the London-based Independent newspaper, and has done baseball commentary on British TV.
Ross and Taylor hooked up when the Englishman was looking for someone who knew baseball and had connections in the United States. Ross met a dozen times with the sculptor and0 supplied him with photographs of Williams, books about baseball, and insights into the finer points of the game.
``I am capturing the moment just after he hits the ball,″ Taylor said. ``That took a time to get right ... the angle of his head. The hands also took work. And the face took a while to get right, but it often does.″
``I know quite a bit more about baseball now than when I started,″ Taylor added. ``I’d really like to get to the States to see a game. So far it’s only been on television.″
Ross sold the idea to the Jimmy Fund, the fund-raising arm of the Boston-based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. They’ve bought the rights to sell the series of 406 bronzes, priced at $300 plus shipping from Britain.
Money from the sale will go to the charity, which last year raised about $12 million, said Alison Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Jimmy Fund.
Williams has the first bronze in the series, and the second is in the Ted Williams Retrospective Museum and Library in Hernando, Fla. The third will be given away at a drawing in Boston Dec. 15. The drawing at a black-tie dinner will kick off the Jimmy Fund’s new ``406 Club,″ a fund-raising campaign expected to generate $2 million.
The dinner and drawing will also take place the same day the Ted Williams Boston Harbor Tunnel opens.
``The Jimmy Fund has always been Ted Williams’ favorite charity,″ Taylor said. ``To have the statue and have all these things come together at the same time has been great for us.″
End Adv For Weekend Editions Dec. 9-10