Dick Perez, who is widely recognized as professional baseball’s leading artist, has teamed with Robert Edward Auctions to oversee the sale of 185 of his original Hall of Fame artworks. Nearly all were featured in Perez’s award-winning book The Immortals: An Art Collection of Baseball’s Best. The paintings will be sold in REA’s 2012 catalog auction via 28 lots that correspond to themed chapters in his book. The paintings as presented in sets will be sold in groupings as opposed to individual pieces.
There is obviously greater income potential when sold individually, but the artist wanted to give the groupings more potential to remain together whether they are bought for private or public displays. According to the auction company, Mr. Perez thought that outweighed any financial considerations.
“Robert Edward Auctions is honored and thrilled to have been chosen to oversee the sale of such works by a legendary artist so integral to the game of baseball,” said REA president Rob Lifson.
The Immortals, also available at Amazon.com, features every member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and includes over 1,400 paintings and images. The text includes biographical sketches from every era in baseball, including lifetime statistics of the players and historical accounts. The Baseball Eras presented include: Baseball Origins, The Dead Ball Era, The Golden Age, The Depression Era, The War and Post War Years, The Expansion Era and The Modern Era.
Dick Perez’s images over the years have brought enchantment and appreciation of the game to legions of domestic and international fans. He is the only artist to have ever been named the Official Artist of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Generations have now seen his artwork of legendary players through which he has brought perspective to younger fans and collectors. He is most widely known for his postcard series and his long-running Donruss “Diamond Kings” artwork cards. Some of his most recent work has been with the Topps company.
The auction will include 35 post-Perez-Steele Hall of Fame postcard works of art from 2006-2011 and his original Roberto Clemente postcard as well. The published series ended in 2001 but Perez still created renderings for each of the Hall inductees including Barney Dreyfuss and Goose Gossage. Robert Edward Auctions sold seven postcard works of art for Hall of Famers inducted in the years 2002-2005 at a previous offering. The Clemente piece has been requested over the years and each time, REA had to inform their bidders that the piece was not available. This was a direct result of Perez’s personal feelings of respect for Clemente’s on and off the field achievements. Both Perez and Clemente share a Puerto Rican heritage as well.
A decision was made in 2005 by the Hall of Fame’s board of directors to hold a special election by the Committee on African-American Baseball for consideration of former Negro League players and executives who were previously overlooked by former committees, to be inducted into the Cooperstown shrine. The result was a record number of inductees in 2006, all of whom were very deserving of the honor. In this unprecedented and historic year, 18 candidates were inducted, a list that included Effa Manley, the first woman ever to be inducted. That year, 17 of the 18 honorees were given posthumous recognition for their achievements in baseball and have now taken their rightful place in history alongside the likes of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.
Perez paints a portrait every year of all Hall of Fame inductees, but the 2006 class proved quite a challenge. Although the Perez-Steele Galleries are no longer publishing postcards, these special portraits are still featured in Perez’s book. The time and effort expensed on the 2006 class was astronomical to say the least. They are being offered as a set due the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the 2006 precedent set by the Hall. This is also how they were originally intended to be displayed.
The Perez-Steele Hall of Fame postcard artworks have never been sold with more than three as a set, and that is an even rarer occasion. These 17 players had, for almost a century, been denied the honors they deserve due to their race. The historical magnitude of this collection has developed a sincere demand as some of baseball’s greatest players have finally been embraced with full recognition. Although the monetary benefits of selling these pieces individually would have been considerably higher, it was Dick Perez’s wish that they be offered as a set in hopes that the collection would remain intact over the years. These paintings have been created in watercolor on 100% cotton fiber arches WC paper. They measure 13 x 18 inches.
Along with the addition of Bruce Sutter, the 2006 Hall of Fame Class includes Negro League Hall of Fame greats: Biz Mackey, Pete Hill, Frank Grant, Andy Cooper, Willard Brown, Ray Brown, Effa Manley, Jose Mendez, Alex Pompez, Cum Posey, Louis Santop, Jud Wilson, Mule Suttles, L. L. Wilkinson, Sol White, Cristobal Torriente and Ben Taylor.
Other notable offerings that correspond to Perez’s book are 19 pieces from “The Golden Age” and 16 pieces from “Baseball Origins.” Most of the players featured in these two categories are depicted in action and are all Hall of Famers. Each piece is signed by Perez and was produced specifically and exclusively for inclusion into the book. They have not been published anywhere else. REA is continuing to work on finalizing the many lots that will be available to bidders.
In what were largely black and white eras, the paintings help bring these long ago players and their exploits into a brilliant focus. Among the paintings featured in “The Golden Age” grouping are those portraying baseball legends Babe Ruth, Frankie Frisch, George Sisler, KiKi Cuyler, Burleigh Grimes and many others.
Featured in the “Baseball Origins” grouping are early stars like George Wright, Al Spalding, Mike “King” Kelly, Dan Brouthers and Hughie Jennings.
Perez used variety of techniques and sizes to complete the works. The style and detail are unmistakably his. Complete details will be released once the auction lots are set.
The Perez paintings will be featured in Robert Edward Auctions’ highly anticipated spring catalog, which features hundreds of pages of rare and high grade vintage baseball memorabilia. If you would like information on how to receive one, go to the Robert Edwards Auctions website. You can also register for the auction there as well.