The Yogi Berra Museum has opened a new exhibition: New York City’s Golden Boys: 76 Baseball Portraits, 1946 – 1960, a series of seventy-six 8” x 10” oil paintings by renowned baseball artist Andy Jurinko. The show vividly documents the players that defined an era when New York boasted three major league ball clubs, all of which were among the best of the sixteen teams that made up the American and National Leagues. Along with legendary players of the era – Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider – the show features large-scale canvases of the three beloved NYC ballfields: Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium.
The collection was donated to the Museum by long-time Jurinko collectors, Bernie and Beverly Hubert. Over 100 people turned out for the exhibition’s opening reception on Tuesday evening, November 7, where Hubert explained the reasons behind his gift, the largest single art donation to the Museum in over a decade: “Since 1992, these beautiful oil-on-canvas portraits have graced the walls of my office at home. Thinking it time to find them a new home and a wider audience, I gifted them to the Museum. I’m very proud to be a part of it all.”
The reception included several children of the players featured in the show, who were able to “visit” their fathers in the new gallery space where the 76 portraits are displayed. Pamela Irvin Fields, the daughter of Monte Irvin; Cheryl Howard, the daughter of Elston Howard; Joe Collins, Jr., the son of Joe Collins; and Lindsay Berra, the granddaughter of Yogi Berra, were in attendance. Larry Doby, Jr., the son of Cleveland Indian star Larry Doby, was also there. In addition, the widow of Andy Jurinko, who died in 2011, came for the opening.
The Museum’s Executive Director, Eve Schaenen, explained the larger significance of the Jurinko collection, quoting the famous American journalist, David Halberstam: “Behind every great sports story is the story of a nation. That’s really the spirit in which we present this new exhibition of Andy Jurinko’s work. NYC’s Golden Boys tells a great sports story. But what we hope people will see as they view the collection is that the portraits also tell other important stories about our nation. Within these years there’s an immigration story. There’s a civil rights story. There’s a story about service to country, with all the players who, like Yogi, enlisted in the military to fight in World War Two. It’s the work of the Museum & Learning Center to use all these stories to inspire a new generation through our education programs.”
Billy Crystal, baseball fan and friend of Yogi’s, described the series of portraits in his foreword to the exhibition catalogue: “Andy Jurinko has done something that even memory can’t do. He has perfectly and permanently returned these great players to the time when an eight-year-old boy fell in love with baseball.”
New York City’s Golden Boys will remain on display at the Museum as part of the permanent collection.