Burton Morris designs Maz prints to fund statue
Sometimes work can be a real joy.
Like countless children in Pittsburgh, Burton Morris grew up a Pirates fan. Now a successful artist, Burton has created two artworks in tribute to Bill Mazeroski. The pieces will be used by Pirates Charities to help fund a statue at PNC Park of the Hall of Fame and Golden Glove second baseman. In the process, Burton has had the thrill of meeting and working with one of his childhood heroes.
The Maz statue will be unveiled and dedicated at 12:45 p.m. Sept. 5 in a cul de sac on Mazeroski Way near the PNC Park Right Field Gate, prior to the Bucs game with the Washington Nationals.
The new statue shows Mazeroski rounding second base with his cap and arms raised after hitting the game- and series-winning home run in the 1960 World Series against the New York Yankees. It was created by Pittsburgh artist Susan Wagner, who also did the statues at PNC Park of Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargel.
One of Morris' artworks shows another way Mazeroski became famous -- turning a double play. Morris works in a post-pop style, influenced by Andy Warhol and the bold style of comics' illustrations. "Maz Double Play" is available in a limited-edition run of 250 lithographs, each signed by Mazeroski and the artist, for $500. It is also available, unsigned, as a poster for $10.
Jake Zoller, president of R.R. Donnelley Hoechstetter Printing and a member of the committee raising funds for the statue, came up with idea of Morris creating art for the project and urged the double play image.
"The home run made him famous, but his claim to fame, the reason he was my baseball hero and won him eight Golden Gloves, was the way he turned double plays so quickly," says Zoller. "That's why I suggested this. He never actually caught the ball.
"I've heard him say many times it bounced off his glove and into his other hand. That made his throw to first a lot quicker than if he had to reach into the glove to grab the ball."
The other Morris artwork is the latest of his "night table portraits" that use iconic images to define a person's life. The first was of Warhol.
When Morris, 46, met Mazeroski to discuss the project, he says one of his childhood heroes turned out to be "really down to earth, extremely kind, a gentleman.
"He asked me about my father, and we talked baseball," Morris says. "He said the pitcher he feared most was Sandy Koufax. He also told me which images were important to him for the night table portrait I was planning. It was definitely a thrill."
The Mazeroski night table portrait includes a family picture, his hall of fame plaque, a golden glove, a Pirates cap, a newspaper from the morning after the Bucs won the '60s series, Forbes Field and a miniature of Burton's version of Maz rounding second.
Only nine -- Maz's number -- of the 30-inch by 30-inch canvas prints have been printed. Each is numbered and signed by both Mazeroski and Morris. They cost $3,000.
Details: 877-689-1960 or www.pirates.com/mazart .
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