The Pinetar Rag

January 21, 2007

Rare Babe Ruth Statue Unearthed

Babe Ruth Statue Jan 2007

After a ten year layoff, I’m back in the studio making the sawdust. What you see here is the beginning of life-sized Babe Ruth in-action statue, hand carved out of solid wood–a one of a kind. The feet are, like always, solid black Walnut, and the body is mostly 3-inch pine. I had started this statue in 1997 or so and have had the wood laying around all this time. Since it’s a shame to waste it, I figure I just might be able to get this thing done before 99 arrives in July. We’re going to give it the old college try in any event. It’s tough though, to come home from work and then go and get dirty and work a few hours but every once in a while you get that little payoff of looking at the thing at the end of a night and thinking, “I actually did that?”

Most folks don’t believe me but doing this kind of work is more about patience and sticktoitiveness than any amount of artisticness or skill. The piece goes so slow that you have plenty of time to look at photos and measure and just go slow. You do the easy parts first, and thus the hard parts all eventually, become easy parts. You just can’t be stubborn. The piece tells you where you need to work. You just have to listen to it.

It’s amazing to do this again after a ten year break. Your memory plays lots of tricks on you. I found that I do miss it and forgot what fun some of it is. It is also far easier with some newer tools as I just didn’t have the money years ago for certain things (like a cheap bandsaw) (I also love the smell of walnut and pine wood!) . I am constantly amazed at how I used to do things and now how I solve the same problem. I laugh because I got a whoooole lot smarter in ten years! haha. Still, some of the old tricks work fine.

I am doing another Babe Ruth (many recall Babe was my first) because quite frankly, he is the statue that made the biggest splash and he is a fascinating character. I don’t think people really understand just what this guy was to Americans. The ultimate rags to riches story. He embodies what America is all about. You don’t need connections. You can be relegated to an orphanage and yet, if you can excel on the diamond, you can be an idol to millions.

The pose I’m doing is actually turning out to be a more tricky one than I thought at first, but recall I started the statue in 1997, having done both feet then. It will depict Ruth all coiled up after whaloping one good. I’d say “in action” but it’s more like, “just after action”; a split-second. I’ll post the progress shots and everyone can see how it is coming along.

I am scheduled to give a talk at the Westchester Meadows Nursing Home around March 1st, to coincide with the start of Spring training. My Mickey Mantle statue will be on display at the Home for a few weeks and we’ll kick it off with a talk about how I got started and techniques I use and some anecdotes about lugging these big statues around to shows and to Yankee Stadium and what not. Below is a shot of my last statue, completed in 1997. Joe DiMaggio. It was sold in a Leland’s auction and resides in Seattle:

This is solid wood (as they all are) and is hand painted in acrylics to look as life-like as possible. I chickened out on the pin striping and did the road uniform. Actually, the master photo that I worked from was a road game, so I’ll hang my hat on that. –fog

Joe DiMaggio Statue


  1. I hope you always at this type of thing. It’s amazing. Looking forward to seeing the progress. Keep posting photos.

    Comment by John Walker — January 22, 2007 @ 12:32 am | Reply

  2. WOW. Color me totally impressed. You’ve probably read Robert Creamer’s bio of the Babe. Probably my favorite biography of all time…After reading that, the context of the Babe in his time and for his time became crystal clear.

    Comment by hutchmo — January 22, 2007 @ 8:02 am | Reply

  3. PS. If you had not said who your were ‘carving/woodworking’, I would have known immediately by the feet and placement of the legs…amazing. You’re damn good!

    Comment by hutchmo — January 22, 2007 @ 8:05 am | Reply

  4. Hutch: Thanks for the kind words. Believe it or not, sometimes a little shot like that is just what I need to trade my couch for a night of sawdust in my eyes~ a good motivator. And yes, nobody coiled up like Jidge after a swing–such power, such a heavy bat and yet such contact/power–this guy was not human. The Creamer book is very good and you know what? I haven’t picked up Montville’s “Bam” and really need to do that. Not to take anything away from Aaron, but with Bonds up there this year, we might revisit this man a bit as he is just larger than life in so many ways. I don’t think people understand that from 1914 to 1920, he pitched and hit a mushy ball–he’d have hit over 1000 homers if he hit the lively ball and played in the outfield all those years and if he played in Citizen’s Bank Park and hit the Polonium-laced ball of 1998-2006, he’d have hit 1200 and would still be sitting pretty. This was a once-in-every-500-years athlete!

    I will try and throw some other photos out of previous statues that you may like. Duck back in tonite.
    — Fog

    Comment by mcgonnigle — January 22, 2007 @ 8:19 am | Reply

  5. Oh, one more thing, it’s been buried because he was so good, but this guy partied away perhaps 100 homers, easily. Look up his 1925 season. He battled the weight and the bottle and distractions. In fact, MANY of the home run hitters (Foxx, Kiner, Hack Wilson, Ruth) had wicked alcohol issues. Makes you wonder what the connection is? –fog

    Comment by mcgonnigle — January 22, 2007 @ 8:21 am | Reply

  6. Brian,

    Why don’t you just break down and carve a Jeter or two. Think of it this way, you probably wouldn’t need as much wood as you do for Ruth …

    Comment by sylvestermcmonkeymcbean — January 22, 2007 @ 11:52 am | Reply

  7. Jeter would SELL! Don’t think I haven’t thought of that… –bb

    Comment by mcgonnigle — January 22, 2007 @ 11:56 am | Reply

  8. What’s with all the evil empire stuff? I thought you did not worship at the alter of pinstripes.

    Comment by Bill — January 22, 2007 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  9. I’m not a fan of anything but money and the Yankees are nothing, if not MONEY. If you want to sell a life-sized wooden statue, you don’t do a Rusty Staub when you could do a Babe Ruth. It’s just business.

    Does the Yankees spending still disgust me? And threaten the game of baseball? Sure! But it has nothing to do with my little cottage industry.


    Comment by mcgonnigle — January 22, 2007 @ 12:52 pm | Reply

  10. Brian great to see some more pics of the Stautes by the way what ever happened to them ??

    Comment by Tim — January 22, 2007 @ 1:51 pm | Reply

  11. was forwarded this by Greg, nice stuff. random question do the teams or the estates of the players ever want a piece of the action or does your cottage industry fly under the radar?

    Comment by frank — January 22, 2007 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

  12. Thanks! Appreciated. I called the Major League Baseball Commissioner’s office and I can use the Yankee logo on the statue and they can’t touch me. As a one-of-a-kind, the piece is considered art (I think so) and as such, is protected by the First Amendment under Free Speech protection.

    Were I to make multiple copies, THEN, I would be into licensing territory.

    Now, if I made a statue of, oh, say a Disney character and not a real man like Babe Ruth, Disney would sieze my house in about a half an hour. Those fictitious characters are heavily copyrighted and those rights are vigorously defended by Disney. I know of old, retired woodcarvers who have had their 7 Dwarves carving siezed at a wood-carving show in NJ some years back. But MLB has assured me that I’m ok, so long as I’m not mass producing them, which I’m not. Thanks again. –fog

    Comment by mcgonnigle — January 22, 2007 @ 4:37 pm | Reply

  13. Wow! I haven’t seen the progress as I am usually sleeping while you work! It is impressive and now I understand all the sawdust on your socks. It’s amazing and keep up the great work!

    Comment by Mrs. Pinetar — January 22, 2007 @ 6:49 pm | Reply

  14. I don’t think anyone really, truly understands all the sawdust, because I have trouble understanding. The other day, I took my second big shopping bag (that’s the big department store kind, not the Piggly Wiggly kind) of sawdust out to the garbage. Filled to the brim. That’s not including the dust that goes out the hood or into the 20 gallon vacuum. I’m half filled up on a third bag. I only wish I had taken photos before I had cleaned up. Next time.

    And the sawdust on the socks is chain-saw, sawdust (I do most rough carving with an electric chainsaw). There’s something about it. It must be shaped like little hooks, because once it gets on the socks, it doesn’t brush or even vacuum off! Someone throw some chainsaw dust under a microscope and we’ll crack this caper~ Houdini couldn’t get the stuff off. [Greg, you have access to this type of equipment…how about it?] –fog

    Comment by mcgonnigle — January 22, 2007 @ 8:41 pm | Reply

  15. Tim, the first Babe Ruth statue was bought by Tony Cocchi, from Snellville, Georgia and it was, I’m told by Tony, on display at Turner Field one summer. Last year, when I was down there, we looked Tony up but he had just moved. I would have flipped to see that statue again. Since it was my first, I probably spent more time with it than all the others put together. (Joe D is in Seattle and Eddie Gaedel is in NJ, all sold. Mickey is still in inventory but we’ve recently had inquiries) –fog

    Comment by mcgonnigle — January 22, 2007 @ 8:44 pm | Reply

  16. Gotta be the socks.

    Comment by Greg B — January 22, 2007 @ 10:01 pm | Reply

  17. Turns out Fog starts at the bottom so he can
    turn anything into say, Ron Swaboda at the
    last minute…. oh yea, we know.

    Comment by chris — January 24, 2007 @ 11:20 am | Reply

  18. Ron Swaboda made one of the greatest catches in Woil Serious history! He wouldn’t be the worst cherce…of course there’s always Keith Hernandez…

    Comment by mcgonnigle — January 24, 2007 @ 11:50 am | Reply

  19. Keith… made out of wood ? That would accurately reflect his hamstring.
    Question is; would he depicted as #37 St Louie or #17 NYM ?

    Comment by skywarn007 — January 24, 2007 @ 5:22 pm | Reply

  20. Flog-

    For no particular reason, just reminded of it somehow-

    On the self in the bathroom I have the Spary Lyle book, “The Bronx Zoo” in close prox to the loo. It’s great for that. Anyway, I just
    love the stories about- was it Ken Holtzman?,
    making the sculptures out of garbage and whatnot that he found in the bullpen. ‘Member?
    He would just amble on over to Sparky and just
    nonchalantly lay them on him. For some reason I just love that.
    That, and Puff taking one purposefully off the chest and throwing it into the seats during “The Mayor’s Game” against the Mets.
    Oh yea, and about the Mets… Was it 2 sets of signs…..? One set for the team and another for Cleon Jones? True? Yo, he did make the last catch in ’69 yo….

    Comment by chris — January 26, 2007 @ 9:10 am | Reply

  21. Story I heard was that Cleon Jones kept asking for repeats on the sign from the 3rd base coach, and in an obvious sac bunt situation. So Bob Gibson gets tired of this and yells out, “…Hey Cleon, he wants you to **** bunt!”.

    Sparky Lyle’s book “The Bronx Zoo” is a CLASSIC! Absolute classic. There are many passages in there where you laugh out loud while reading it by yourself.

    My favorite was when Lyle was in the men’s room and Art Fowler kept calling down (from Billy Martin) wanting Lyle up and throwing and Gossage, I think, was saying, “…look Art, the guy’s taking a d**p, whattayawant me to do?” You know there has to be a thousand of those type of funny moments in any given season.

    And if you love Lyle’s book, you MUST read “Balls” by Craig Nettles. Also a great book that just takes Steinbrenner apart in anecdote after anecdote.

    Beyond that, the original baseball, tell-all, diary of a season, is Jim Bouton’s 1970 classic, “Ball Four”. That’s worth reading even if you know nothing about baseball. It has a lot of stuff about organizations and behavior that is always pertinent. A recent New York Times list of the 100 most influential books of the 20th century, lists that book up high. It started an avalanche in the “tell-all” genre. Thanks Chris, great stuff. –fog

    Comment by mcgonnigle — January 26, 2007 @ 9:59 am | Reply

  22. Brian,

    I just happened to stumble on the Babe Ruth work in progress. It is impressive. I like how you say its not really the artisitc ability but the sicktoitiveness….sure it is…i look forward to seeing the progress shots


    Comment by DavidJaffoni — February 20, 2007 @ 8:27 am | Reply

  23. Jaffones…finally makes an appearance on the Pinetar Rag.

    PS: Did you get the Girlscount cookie money?

    Comment by John Walker — February 20, 2007 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

  24. Does anyone know the correct interpupillary distance of Babe Ruths eyes??? I’m doing some personal scientific research and as soon as I reach my conclusions, I’ll post them here. If that is kosher. Great wood working by the way!!! So how is the Babe statue coming along?!

    Comment by David — September 22, 2014 @ 6:29 am | Reply

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