The rise of the painted baseball bat continues.
New York Mets first baseman and defending Home Run Derby champion Pete alonso He has teamed up with artist Gregory Siff to create painted bats for the slugger to wear at the 2021 Derby in Denver. Alonso used a painted bat to win the 2019 Derby, as did Bryce harper He did it the year before, but these don’t just advance the art form, as there are eight this time around.
Alonso will switch between them during batting practice and every round he reaches in the Derby (Program to define the keys of the HR Derby, 10 p.m. ET on ESPN), which takes place Monday at Coors Field.
“It’s functional art, which is really incredible,” Alonso told ESPN.
Siff, using as a canvas the bats provided by Alonso’s sponsor, Dove Tail Bats, painted the story of Alonso’s life on the wood.
“I put all kinds of important messages and important moments in his life and wove them into all the bats,” Siff said.
Siff created graphics that represent significant things to Alonso, with phrases like “Family First”, “Truth, Beauty, Love, Baseball”, “LFGM” and “Molon Labe”, a Greek phrase that means “come and take them” derived from Alonso’s love for the movie “300”.
“Whenever I’m in the batter’s box, that’s my mindset,” Alonso said. “Even though I’m outnumbered nine to one, I’m in my small box, like when the Spartans were defending, only 300 of them were defending against all odds. That’s how I describe how I play. I have that in my shoes and inside my belt. That one. It’s me transforming into someone else when I go to play because who I am now is very different from the man I am between the lines. That’s my switch. “
Among the bats is one painted purple, silver and black, dedicated to his grandfather, who moved from Spain before WWII to start a new life in New York City and attended NYU, the inspiration for the colors. .
“It’s kind of a full circle,” Alonso said. “Because for me, I started my professional career in New York in the big leagues and my dad was born in Queens, so this city is very special to me. I mean, with purple, people may think that they are the colors of the Rockies, but they are really the NYU colors dedicated to my grandfather. “
While MLB does not currently allow players to wear painted bats during games, Alonso said the rise of sneaker culture and the success of Players Weekend should prompt MLB to allow functional art in games.
“I don’t see any problem,” Alonso said. “There could be a lot of bureaucracy with that, but I think I don’t have a problem with guys being able to use whatever color bats they want.”
Alonso and Siff also created a merchandise line to complement the bats, with part of the proceeds going to Alonso’s charity, Homers for Heroes. Replicas of the bats that Alonso will use in the Derby will also be sold for the benefit of the charity.
Siff had previously partnered with Topps to illustrate a line of baseball cards and worked with brands such as Helmut Lang and Yves Saint Laurent. After Siff painted a live mural at ComplexCon on behalf of Major League Baseball, he received a call from Alonso’s marketing manager, Jon Einalhori, asking if he would be interested in working together. Siff, who grew up as a Mets fan, jumped at the opportunity.
“Pete agreed with the vibe he was painting, this kind of line style, stream of consciousness,” Siff said. “What I’m working on for Pete is telling the player’s story and infusing that into the bat. I also wanted to do something with the work implements and I wanted to do something other than just what you wear in a game that says, ‘Go ahead. , team, ‘but something that could be featured at a party or event, and that’s how it started. “
When Siff sent photos of the bats to Alonso, the response was enthusiastic.
Alonso said: “I can’t wait to destroy balls with these things.”