Tomorrow, the eighty-sixth Major League Baseball All-Star game will take place in Cincinnati. Fan voting for this year’s All-Star rosters closed on July 2, but here at the National Portrait Gallery the polls are just about to open!
Last fall, the Portrait Gallery unveiled a special wall in our galleries, called “Recognize,” as a place to highlight one important person in our collection as chosen by friends and fans of the Portrait Gallery. This is a chance for the public to help us decide what will go on display, from a group of three portraits currently in storage. The candidate with the most votes will be featured on the Recognize wall, near the north entrance to our museum.
In the last round of Recognize, voters elected to display a portrait of George Carlin by Arthur Grace. Now it’s time to select a new Recognize candidate, and the National Portrait Gallery is ready for your vote!
In this round, our historians and curators have selected three baseball greats for your consideration. Shall we display the lanky Boston Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth? The blazing Dodgers southpaw Sandy Koufax? Or the Gold Glove slugger Roberto Clemente?
Cast your vote here and tell us who to Recognize! Voting is open until 5:00 p.m. on July 27. The winner will be announced the following week and will go on display late in August.
Roberto Clemente (1934–1972) was born in Puerto Rico. He became a legend in Pittsburgh, where he played his entire eighteen-year major league baseball career. On September 30, 1972, Clemente made his 3,000th career hit, a double against Jon Matlack and the New York Mets. This was the last regular-season at-bat of Clemente’s life. He was a twelve-time Gold Glove outfielder, a four-time National League batting champion, and a tireless humanitarian: “Any time you have the opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't do it, you are wasting your time on this earth.” Roberto Clemente was killed in an airplane crash on December 31, 1972, while attempting to deliver relief supplies to earthquake victims in Managua, Nicaragua.
Sanford “Sandy” Koufax was born in Brooklyn in 1935. He pitched twelve seasons for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. Fifty years ago, in the 1965 season, Koufax led the league in strikeouts (382), wins (26), and earned-run average (2.04). He also threw his fourth no-hitter, a perfect game against the Chicago Cubs on September 9, 1965. For the second time, Koufax was the unanimous winner of the Cy Young Award. Koufax declined to pitch game one of that year’s World Series in observation of Yom Kippur. But his complete game shutout of the Minnesota Twins in game five, followed by a three-hit shutout in game seven, made Koufax the World Series MVP for the second time.
When signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1914, the thin, muscular 6’2” George Herman “Babe” Ruth was a gifted pitcher. In 1915, his first full season in major-league baseball, Ruth established himself as a star with an 18–8 win-loss record and a 2.44 ERA. Even so, the Red Sox pitching staff was so strong that Ruth did not take the mound during that year’s World Series. The next year, his league-leading nine shutouts and 1.75 ERA helped the Red Sox repeat as world champions. During 1919, his last season with the Red Sox, he gave up pitching to become a full-time outfielder. By that time, he had compiled an 89–46 win-loss record with a 2.28 ERA, leaving little doubt he could have been one of baseball’s greatest pitchers.