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Capturing the ultimate game of nostalgia
12/11/2008 2:30 PM ET
Roger Patrick had an epiphany while toiling away as an art student at the University of Minnesota.

"I got out a bunch of times to see the Twins and St. Paul Saints, and something happened to my art," Patrick says. "First of all, baseball is such a beautiful sport that it's fun to paint just because of that.

"And the general position that I found in academia is that figurative art is at best provincial and at worst irrelevant in today's society. I went to baseball thinking that if they didn't like figurative art they really wouldn't like figurative sports art and I was pretty confident that I could create painting that might make them re-evaluate their position. I think that I did accomplish this, to some extent."

The result is an ongoing narrative of folk-tinged painting centering on the 1960s and 1970s that aims to not only show the fanfare and pageantry of the Grand Old Game but to comment on winning, losing, and the human aspect of baseball players as well.

A visit to a Roger Patrick show will reveal many moments of victory and vulnerability on the baseball field.

You'll see Willie Mays dropping a ball, Sandy Koufax celebrating a win all too prematurely, Reggie Jackson pulling his hamstring and Rick Monday snatching the American flag from unruly fans. View some of these here.

"I guess you can call some of the images I paint heroic acts, but they're not really succeeding," says Patrick, whose work, along with that of his artist wife Christy, can be seen at

"There's always a striving for something, and it probably comes from comic books, when the superhero would die. Those were the ones I remember the most.

Maybe what I'm trying to say is that you can only try your hardest and you're not always going to win. But good things come out of failure. So I think that the baseball community is open to this, with already so much great literature devoted to baseball."

And then there's the color of the game, which, even as an adult, Patrick can't seem to get over.

"It's everywhere in baseball, especially Minor League games with all the stuff on the walls, the advertisements," he says. "But the blue sky, the green grass, the uniforms, it all adds to it. Plus the scale of it. You don't really realize how large the outfield is until you're standing in the middle of it.

"There's so much green out there ... how can you not paint it?"

Patrick will surely continue to do just that. After all, his baseball work has achieved acclaim in prominent places.

He has been featured at the annual "Art of Baseball" exhibition at the George Krevsky Gallery in San Francisco, and Ebbets Field Flannels, the Seattle-based baseball clothing company, featured a Patrick painting on the cover of its catalog.

It's been said that baseball is the ultimate game of failure, with batting champions making outs almost 70 percent of the time. But it's also the ultimate game of nostalgia, which Patrick says is a big influence on his pastoral paeans to the Pastime.

"Baseball brings you back to that time period that keeps you from getting older, and that era in everyone's life doesn't really last for very long, so maybe painting it keeps me young," he says.

"And I hope it keeps other people young or thinking about their youth."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.