Posted by Cheryl Nichols, Nats News Network Contributor and Photographer
The long anticipated sculptures of DC's baseball legends were unveiled in a public ceremony today in the Center Field Plaza at Nationals Park. The sculptures of Washington Senators Frank Howard and Walter Johnson, and Homestead Grays player Josh Gibson add a much needed historic link of the Washington Senators to the current Washington Nationals.
Frank Howard "The Capital Punisher" was at the ceremony along with several members of his family. Hondo was not shy about sharing his wonderful baseball stories. No matter how many times you've heard them, they never get old. Sean Gibson (the great-grandson of Josh Gibson) and Josh Gibson's great-great-granddaughter were also at the ceremony.
The sculptures were created by Omri Amrany and "The Ballgame," a suspended artwork at home plate entrance was created by Walter Kravitz. I found a short video n youtube showing the movement of suspended artwork. All pieces were commissioned by the DC Creates Public Arts Program and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) in collaboration with the Washington Nationals Baseball Club, the DC Sports & Entertainment Commission (DCSEC) and HOK Sport.
Phil Wood, baseball historian and MASN contributor was the Emcee for the ceremony.
Omri Amrany, Walter Kravitz and Mark Lerner
WALTER PERRY JOHNSON "THE BIG TRAIN"
Engraved on sculpture base: Walter Johnson might have been the fastest pitcher in baseball history. With his sweeping sidearm delivery, the "Big Train" led the league in strikeouts 12 times during a 21 year career with the Washington Nationals from 1907 to 1927. Johnson won 417 games, including 10 straight seasons of 20 or more, and his 110 shutouts remains the major league record to this day. He led Washington to the World Championship of 1924. In 1936, Walter Johnson was inducted into The National Baseball Hall of Fame.
FRANK OLIVER HOWARD "HONDO"
Engraved on sculpture base: Frank Howard played for the Washington Senators from 1965 through 1971. One of the most physically intimidating hitters in baseball history Howard was named the National League Rookie of the Year in 1960. He led the American League in home runs twice and in slugging average, runs batted in and walks once. He 237 home runs as a Washington Senator is a team record.
JOSHUA (JOSH) GIBSON
Engraved on sculpture base: Josh Gibson is considered one of the greatest power hitters in the history of baseball. The powerful catcher led the Washington Homestead Grays to eight of nine Negro National League titles from 1937 through 1945. Gibson utilized a powerful swing, and tales of this mammoth home runs have become legend. Over his 17 year career, he hit almost 800 home runs. In 1972, Josh Gibson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Sean Gibson with his great-grandfather Josh Gibson's sculpture
James Tillman, 88 was proud to pose by his former teammates shiny new sculpture. Tillman was Gibson's back-up catcher for the Homestead Grays.
THREE NEW SCULPTURES IN CENTER FIELD PLAZA
Photo (c) C. Nichols 2009. All rights reserved.
SLIDESHOW WITH MORE PHOTOS (YOU CAN CLICK ON THE SLIDESHOW TO MAKE PICTURES LARGER)