Friday, March 30, 2018


We enjoyed a daddy-daughter downtown excursion to see the exhibit PLAY BALL! BASEBALL AT THE DIA during a visit to the art museum.  Home to more than 65,000 artifacts and artwork,  this exhibit marks the first time in the history of this 91-year old prestigious institution, recognized for having one of the most significant art collections within the United States, that it is displaying baseball cards.  Being a big baseball fan I wasn't going to miss out on seeing the exhibit for myself.

PLAY BALL! BASEBALL AT THE DIA is made up primarily of rare baseball cards and other baseball-related memorabilia from the personal collection of Detroit area attorney E. Powell Miller.  It includes one of only three known complete sets in the world of some of the first produced baseball cards produced by American Tobacco Company and distributed in their brands' cigarette packs from 1909 - 11. This run of baseball cards is called the T206 set by collectors and features stars from the earliest days of professional baseball including Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. The set is made up of 524 different cards which visitors to the DIA can get an up close look at.

Miller's collection also includes the very rare Honus Wagner card which is often referred to as the "Mona Lisa" or "Holy Grail" of baseball card collecting.  Wagner is one of the first baseball players to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame; but for some reason compared to all the other players of that time his card was extremely limited in circulation.  It is a mystery that adds to the value of his card.  This Honus Wagner baseball card is prominently displayed separately from the rest of the T206 cards in the exhibit.

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Detroit Tigers 1968 World Series victory and this exhibit commemorates that moment with some additional pieces of baseball memorabilia from Miller's collection:

Take a look at these two autographed baseballs! One signed by the victorious Tigers team and the other by the players on the St. Louis Cardinals players they defeated during the 1968 World Series.

Baseball card fans will enjoy seeing a bunch of original 1968 Detroit Tigers baseball cards and a team autographed program.

Plus there is a lot of memorabilia surrounding one of the Detroit Tigers all time best outfielders ... Al Kaline.

Some history from the Tigers days of playing on the ball diamond at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.  A section of padding taken from a portion of the outfield wall known as Kaline's Corner from the old Tiger Stadium before it was demolished.

Minor League umpire George Sosnak had a passion for the game and a talent for drawing which led to a hobby that had him decorating thousands of baseballs to honor players and special moments.  After his death in 1992, Sosnak's artwork began to garner the attention and respect of art collectors, baseball fans, and museums.  While he rarely charged for his work during his lifetime, the value of his artwork has escalated since Sosnak passed away with one of his baseballs featuring Joe DiMaggio fetching $5,000 at auction.  A Sosnak baseball illustrating John F. Kennedy throwing out the 1962 Washington Senators' Opening Day game is on view at the JFK Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts.  Miller has collected several George Sosnak baseballs honoring the artist's favorite Major League baseball team's 1968 World Series victory that can be viewed by people stopping by PLAY BALL! BASEBALL AT THE DIA.

The DIA has also added two pieces of artwork from its own collection to compliment Miller's items in this exhibit, Hard Ball III by Robert Moskowitz and Paisaje Urbano Detroit by Dario Escobar.  PLAY BALL! BASEBALL IN DETROIT is a temporary exhibit that is included as part of general admission to the art museum.  It will be open from March 28 - September 16, 2018 during the DIA's normal operating hours.

Paisaje Urbano Detroit / Urban Landscape Detroit utilizes 150 Detroit Tigers baseball bats from Louisville Slugger to portray the city's skyline centered around the iconic Renaissance Center towers. Guatemalan artist Dario Escobar utilizes soccer balls, skate boards, and baseball bats in creating his  three-dimensional artwork.  This is meant to represent the globalization of athletic enterprise, the mass production of objects used in various sports, and the associations between teams and the places they call home.

Robert Moskowitz is an American artist known for playing around with forms and shapes inspired by the country's history and culture.  Hard Ball III is one in a series of paintings that show he silhouette of a pitcher who has just thrown a fast ball.  Each painting shows the ball in a different position of the pitches trajectory.  In this painting it appears the ball is looming right in front of you just about to cross home plate.

For more information about the Detroit Institute of Arts including hours and admission prices, visit Think about visiting the museum to take in PLAY BALL! BASEBALL AT THE DIA.

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