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Carnegie restores portrait of native Honus Wagner

Samson X Horne
| Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, 7:39 p.m.
Carnegie's American Legion Post 82 Cmdr. John Koishal (right), Mayor Jack Kobistek (center) and First Vice-President Tom Schramm (left) are shown in front of the painting of Carnegie’s native son, Honus Wagner, the Pittsburgh Pirates great, on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015.
Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
Carnegie's American Legion Post 82 Cmdr. John Koishal (right), Mayor Jack Kobistek (center) and First Vice-President Tom Schramm (left) are shown in front of the painting of Carnegie’s native son, Honus Wagner, the Pittsburgh Pirates great, on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015.
Carnegie's American Legion Post 82 building sports the painting of Carnegie’s native son, Honus Wagner, the Pittsburgh Pirates great, on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015.
Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
Carnegie's American Legion Post 82 building sports the painting of Carnegie’s native son, Honus Wagner, the Pittsburgh Pirates great, on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015.
Carnegie's American Legion Post 82 graces its building with  the painting of Carnegie’s native son, Honus Wagner, the Pittsburgh Pirates great, on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. Once the construction project on the Carnegie ramp of Parkway West concludes, the painting will greet travelers.
Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
Carnegie's American Legion Post 82 graces its building with the painting of Carnegie’s native son, Honus Wagner, the Pittsburgh Pirates great, on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. Once the construction project on the Carnegie ramp of Parkway West concludes, the painting will greet travelers.

One of Carnegie's most famous native sons, Pittsburgh Pirates legend Honus Wagner, has always been larger than life.

Now, a new 9-foot-by-5-foot portrait of the Hall of Fame shortstop — installed in October — hangs outside American Legion Post 82 on Jane Street.

“It'll be the first thing folks see when they come in off the parkway,” Mayor Jack Kobistek said.

The computer-generated portrait, a replica of the rare Wagner baseball card that sold for more than $2 million in 2013, cost $1,800 to produce. The legion funded the cost through raffles and anonymous donations.

“It's nice,” said Barbara Wagner Ehland, a grandniece of Wagner who lives in Mt. Lebanon. “No one in our family has any of his baseball cards.”

Vital Signs in Carnegie created the piece based on a painting that hung on the building for 12 years until last year, when it was taken down because it was deteriorating. Nils Hanczar, the grandson of Post 82 member and World War II veteran Les Hanczar, painted that one.

“It was in bad shape from the weather,” said Tom Schramm, first vice commander of the Legion post. He said the latest version should last 15 to 20 years.

Honus Wagner played in the major leagues for 21 seasons, mostly with the Pirates.

Post Cmdr. John Koishal, a Vietnam veteran, called Wagner the most famous person to come out of Carnegie.

“He had a house right up on Beechwood Avenue,” Koishal said.

Wagner's granddaughter, Leslie Wagner Roberts of Myrtle Beach, S.C., said the way he is remembered 60 years after his death is a point of pride.

“I'm just so proud of my grandfather. I'm honored that people continue to honor him, not only in Carnegie or Pittsburgh, but throughout the United States,” she said.

Samson X Horne is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media. He can be reached at samson.x.horne@gmail.com.

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