A tenacious competitor with an impressive work ethic, Carlton Fisk was one of major league baseball’s most capable and durable catchers. During twenty-four seasons in the American League (first with the Boston Red Sox and later with the Chicago White Sox), Fisk caught a record-setting 2,226 games and posted home-run tallies that ranked him among the top-hitting catchers of all time.
Fisk’s accomplishments were all the more remarkable because he repeatedly overcame career-threatening injuries. In 1975, after battling back from reconstructive knee surgery and a broken arm, Fisk gave Red Sox fans a never-to-be-forgotten thrill in the sixth game of the World Series when he drilled a twelfth-inning home run to win the game. Fisk always demanded the best, not only of himself but of his teammates. As he once observed, "You don’t play baseball. . . . You work at it." More about Carlton Fisk is available in this previous blog post.
In two series of paintings, Inside Outside and Looking At Exceptional Men the oil painter, Susan Miller-Havens painted over 100 pieces related to athletes that have been shown publicly and are owned by sport enthusiasts and art collectors through out the United States. She views sports as a metaphor for life. She has written, "All team sports reflect what it is like to be a human being: hoping for success, sometimes getting it, failing, picking oneself up, trying again to be the best..all the while striving to be part of a team. Like life, sports are both simple and complex."
Miller-Havens chose to focus on baseball and basketball because they are known to her and appeared to be in an interesting contrast to one another. In 2000 she wrote, "Basketball is a war with battle plans played on an enclosed court. The action is highly regulated by a complex fouling system that controls the power and veracity of the game. In contrast I subscribe to former Commissioner of Baseball, Bart Giamatti's way of thinking about baseball. It is really a story of coming home, not combat. Played in a large park the confrontation between teams is given more space. Giamatti compared it to Odysseus's task of conquering a variety of obstacles in order to get home. Scoring requires getting to home plate. In baseball the player may hit the ball, get to base or not. LIke Odysseus, the Sirens and the Greek gods of weather must be dealt with by the player before he can get home. In basketball players are positioned and must execute the diagramed plan as a group moving together to enable the basket to be scored."
Listen to an interview with artist Susan Miller-Havens (24:48)
Slideshow of selected works by Susan Miller-Havens