I am forever amazed at the skill and talent of Bill Purdom. Last fall, Bill came by the house to drop off a copy of print he had done for the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. We talked baseball and Reds for over an hour before he had to get on the road. Part of our conversation involved discussing what would make a “cool painting.” In looking over some of the images in my reference library, we came across a grouping of players at Crosley Field in 1956 and both thought it made for impressive gathering of all time Redleg greats. I figured Bill might paint something along those lines, but that may have turned out a bit sterile after seeing what he ended up creating in the form of his painting titled “Redleg Wrecking Crew.”
There are a couple of things that jump out at me in looking at this most recent effort, but what they have in common is an extraordinary attention to detail. The backdrop of this latest magnificent painting is old Crosley Field. The signs and advertisements are extremely well done, but take a look at the clock and notice the time. It reads 12:50. If you know anything about Day Games at Crosley Field in 1956, they started at 1:30 (except Opening Day which began at 2:30 because of the Findley Market Parade). The point is, if these guys were going to get together before a game for “this quick snapshot”, even the time on the clock even makes sense.
The second point deals with what is seen at the center of the image, Big Klu and fistful of vintage and colorful Adirondack Lumber. This makes for a striking visual and also demonstrates the Bill’s commitment to both aesthetics and accuracy. You may be like many others who would want to question such a departure from the norm, but then you would not have done the research like Bill Purdom did. I have enclosed images of an actual Klu Adirondack gamer and photo of him from the 1956 All Star Game (the photo can be found in Klu’s photograph files at Cooperstown).
Once again, I opted for a giclee’, which is a print done on canvas. I feel very fortunate enough to get one of the last remaining few of these as they were limited to 50. Bill was gracious enough to sign my copy (1/50) “For my friend Dave, thanks for the inspiration W.S. Purdom 08.” To be honest, I was the one who was inspired by the work…so much so I have committed myself to rebuilding portions of my Reds Collection that I sold off a number of years back. I have recently picked up bats of Ed Bailey and Smokey Burgess, to go with my Frank Robinson Ted Kluszewski. I am on the look out for bats of Gus Bell, Wally Post, Brooks Lawrence, Joe Nuxhall, Roy McMillian and Johnny Temple to go along with this (OK, not too subtle of a plug, but if you have bats of these guys, or other players from the 1950s-1960, please let me know).
In talking with Bill, he is likely to soon begin on something else at the behest of the Cincinnati Reds. I offered a couple of topics that might include Cincinnati Reds Rookies of the Year or Cincinnati Reds Most Valuable Players (OK, once again maybe not too subtle as both of this would involve getting Pete Rose in the image; ROY 1963, MVP 1973).
If you are wondering about the size and scale of “Redleg Wrecking Crew”, the overall length is about 31” long and 21” high. Big Klu is 12 inches in height. This makes it small enough not to take up a wall, but is done in such a beautiful manner that it easily “takes up a room” in visual appeal.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect. I enjoy 1950s-1960s Reds Players bats….Did I mention that?
Thank Bill and once again….GREAT JOB.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com