Yogi Berra: A Tribute to a Baseball Legend

Yogi Berra sculpture by Rhoda Sherbell

Yogi Berra sculpture by Rhoda Sherbell

On September 22, 2015, the world lost a baseball legend in Yogi Berra. In light of his recent passing, the National Art Museum of Sport is honored to share the two following likenesses as a tribute to the late Hall of Famer.

New York sculptor Rhoda Sherbell was asked by the owner of the New York Mets, Joan Whiney Payson, to sculpt a large figure of the Mets’ then manager, Casey Stengel, who had secured his place in baseball history with the New York Yankees. His old friend from the Yankees, catcher Yogi Berra, told Sherbell he wanted her to sculpt him, too. She did. The resulting bust of Yogi Berra was given to the National Art Museum of Sport by Sherbell’s daughter. A casting of Casey was given to NAMOS as a memorial to the museum’s founder, Germain Glidden.

This past summer, artist Jon Moro also created a sculpture of Yogi Berra at his studio in Rockport, Maine.

“It was truly a labor of love trying to capture the visage of such a remarkable man,” Moro writes. “While doing the work I was constantly reminded of his wonderful sayings, and the power of his legacy on the game. Ironically, I finished the piece on August 26, just about a month before his death. Every part of the piece is wood, including the face mask.”

Moro has been carving athletes in wood for 15 years.

“I am often asked, ‘Why wood?’” Moro writes in his artist statement. “Wood is warm, familiar, organic and ultimately alive. Perfect for conducting memories. Something to touch…not impersonal as plastic (a chemical formula), or cold to the touch as metal. There is always something below the surface of a piece of wood. Grain is individual, and yet marks every species distinctively. Our eyes see shape, but we also see the grain. Grain is a life lived. It a surface with a past. Every piece is the result of a collaboration. The life of the wood, and the shape the sculptor gives it. It is a unique connection between artist and medium, past and present, something crafted, yet something living.”

One of Moro’s pieces was chosen for the Third Annual International Commitment to Excellence in Art & Sport Competition in Bradenton, Florida. There, he received the NCAA Honoring Academic and Athletic Excellence in Painting Award and his piece currently resides in the NCAA’s collection. You can see more of his artwork on his website, www.jmoroart.com.