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Mark Sfirri’s Baseball Bats Headed to Cooperstown, NY

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The National Base­ball Hall of Fame and Museum in Coop­er­stown, New York, has acquired a set of unusual base­ball bats titled Rejects from the Bat Factory,” created by Mark Sfirri of Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Photo Credit: Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

The Pres­i­dent of the Hall of Fame, Josh Rawitch (pictured above), had this to say, We are excited to add this very unique piece of artwork to our perma­nent collec­tion for fans to enjoy. Our Museum contin­ues to display and collect one-of-a-kind arti­facts and objects that help tell the history of our great game and Mark’s work certainly falls into that category.”

The set is part of a series that Sfirri began in 1993. Over the past fifty years, Sfirri has created a diverse range of wood furni­ture and sculp­ture but his vari­a­tions on the theme of altered base­ball bats are among his signa­ture works. The Hall joins other promi­nent insti­tu­tions with sets of Sfirri’s base­ball bat series, among them, the Renwick Gallery (of the Smith­son­ian Amer­i­can Art Insti­tu­tion, Wash­ing­ton DC), Museum of Arts & Design (NYC), The Minneapo­lis Insti­tute of Art (Minneapo­lis, MN), The James A. Mich­ener Art Museum (Doylestown PA), Yale Univer­sity Art Gallery (New Haven CT)— as well as numer­ous private collections.

Photo Credit: Mark Sfirri

The Center for Art in Wood in Philadel­phia also acquired a set of his bats last year. Karen Schoe­newaldt, Manager of Collec­tions and Regis­trar, contacted the Hall of Fame to see if they would be inter­ested in borrow­ing and display­ing the Center’s set. Instead, the Museum Acces­sions Commit­tee decided that they would acquire a set of their own for their perma­nent collec­tion. Coop­er­stown is the biggest stage for the sport,” Sfirri said. My father would be proud.” Sfirri’s work joins other base­ball-related works made by artists Norman Rock­well, Armand LaMon­tagne, Elaine De Kooning, Alexan­der Calder, and Andy Warhol, among others. 

Photo Credit: Mark Sfirri

Sfirri described the incep­tion of the series: Our son Sam, who was six at the time, ran into my wood­shop. He had just seen a base­ball bat with a hollowed end on tele­vi­sion and he wanted me to make him one. I was busy with a furni­ture commis­sion and I tried to get out of it, but he was very deter­mined. He said, Dad… you have the wood, and you have a lathe……make me a bat!’ I knew it wouldn’t take long. The prior­i­ties seemed clear, and I obliged. He went away happy and I got think­ing. I real­ized that the foun­da­tion of base­ball bat design is func­tion: a handle that is the perfect diam­e­ter for grip­ping, a knob to keep the bat from flying out of one’s hands, and a larger diam­e­ter head for a greater chance of making contact with the ball. For me, though, it seemed an oppor­tu­nity to use the form as a blank canvas, a chance to isolate multi-axis turning details that I was exper­i­ment­ing with, to impose them on this recog­niz­able object. My first thought was to try to make it appear that the base­ball dented the bat and deformed it in a way that is, of course, impos­si­ble with wood. In another design, I thought, what would it look like if a base­ball was actu­ally passing through a bat?”

Sfirri’s work is currently on view at the National Base­ball Hall of Fame and Museum. For more infor­ma­tion about a trip to the Hall, visit their website: https://​base​ball​hall​.org

To see more about Mark Sfirri’s work, visit his website: https://​www​.marks​firri​.com
VIsit his profile page on The Furni­ture Society’s website.