Jerry was an avid baseball fan, and for many years had a season ticket to his beloved Cleveland Indians. Jerry’s love for baseball spilled over to his love of illustration, and he was actively working on a series of illustrations related to the Deadball era of baseball.
The Deadball era is generally considered to have spanned the years 1900-1919 and many famous ballplayers played during the Deadball era. Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Casey Stengel, Johnny Evers and Honus Wagner are among the players Jerry illustrated before his passing.
The Deadball era was characterized as a low-scoring, defense and pitching dominated game with relatively few home runs compared to today’s game.
Why is it called “Deadball”? Deadball era pitchers were allowed to modify the ball during the game! It was common for pitchers to scuff the ball against a brick wall, or with an emery board. Pitchers also spit or rubbed dirt on the ball, all of which made the formerly pristine white ball much harder to see. The same ball was also used for the entire game, thus over the duration of the game the ball would become increasingly dirty, scuffed and worn, resulting in a worn out ‘dead’ ball, that was hard to see and hit, and would not travel as far when a player made contact.
In 1920 major league baseball changed several rules, including replacing the ball frequently, and prohibiting pitchers from modifying the ball, which began the “Liveball” era and changed the game to the modern, free swinging, offense dominated game of today.
Jerry’s affinity for the Deadball era players has left us with this wonderful collection of illustrations, which brings the players back to life for us to enjoy and reflect on.
— Tom Mahon, friend of the artist