Private DiMaggio lends name for 'art's' sake

MEMORABILIA

November 20, 1994|By Ruth Sadler | Ruth Sadler,Sun Staff Writer

Joe DiMaggio is a baseball legend. The Hall of Fame outfielder, known since his playing days for guarding his privacy, is also legendary for rarely signing autographs.

When he does sign, it is usually a small number of bats or balls. He has steadfastly refused to put his signature on artwork of himself.

Until now. This week, in conjunction with DiMaggio's 80th birthday, Signature One Series is releasing 2,000 fine art serigraphs depicting the Yankee Clipper and signed by him.

"We approached him, not unlike all the other companies," says artist Carlo Beninati, 52, one of the partners in Signature One. "I think what really swung him over was the quality of the product. . . . It's an incredible coup that we were able to do this."

Beninati, who specializes in portraits of CEOs and celebrities (often for fund-raising organizations), says the printing alone took six weeks. He drew the images, then did each color separately and finally worked with serigrapher Mark Rowland to create each print.

It didn't hurt that Beninati had done a picture in 1980 for the Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame that included DiMaggio. The artist says that was DiMaggio's mother's favorite picture of her son, and a copy of it is on an easel in DiMaggio's attorney's office.

The signing took a day. DiMaggio warmed up by signing artist's proofs the evening before.

"He said, 'This is really art; I'm going to give you my best signature, " Beninati says. "The next day, at 6:30, he started signing, and within a 14-hour period he signed 2,000 limited editions."

A seri-lithograph montage of DiMaggio images, 39 x 33 and limited to 1,000, costs $2,495. At the same price, there are 750 silver foil-stamped serigraphs of DiMaggio in full swing (29 x 35 1/2 ).

A blue foil-stamped on gold serigraphy (and autographed in gold) version is $3,495.

The serigraphs, with their sparer colors and details, have a more modern look than the full-color montage.

"I was really surprised that he loved the contemporary image of him," says Beninati. "It does what I had hoped it would do."

$ Call (800) 600-0101.

All Air

Upper Deck has made Michael Jordan the subject of its first set devoted to one athlete.

It's a 90-card boxed set called Michael Jordan Rare Air and features photographs by Walter Ioos, who collaborated with Jordan on the book "Rare Air." The set has 45 cards with photos from the book.

C7 Each set includes one of four commemorative sheets.

Stadium Club Football 2

Topps' Stadium Club Football Series 2 has 270 cards and includes an insert set whose cards appear to shine and glow.

It features 12 Pro Bowl performers who have led the league in a statistical category. There are 12 cards to a pack.

Action Packed update

Attention, Notre Dame football fans. Action Packed's Rookie/Update set has a six-card subset featuring Notre Dame's members of the NFL's rookie class of '93: Rick Mirer, Jerome Bettis, Reggie Brooks, Tom Carter, Irv Smith and Rocket Ismail. Each is silhouetted against Notre Dame's Golden Dome. There are 78 cards.

The 13-card Quarterback Club subset is also randomly inserted in a gold version. Look for them in late November.

Pinnacle hockey

There will be 270 regular cards in Pinnacle's NHL set, with each also produced in an all-foil version. Other inserts feature goalie masks, great goalies, Team Pinnacle cards and artist's proof versions of regular cards.

There are also hobby-only inserts in U.S. (18 NHL greats and an MVP card of Dominik Hasek) and Canadian (18 Canadian standouts and an MVP card of Pavel Bure) versions. Look for them in late November.

Coming events

Friday-next Sunday, card show, Talbot Community Center, Easton (Route 50), Nov. 25-26, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Nov. 27, 10 a.m to 4 p.m., (410) 437-9927.

Saturday, card show, Columbus Gardens (4301 Klosterman Ave., miles north of I-695 Exit 32B), (410) 866-3366.

Dec. 3, card show to benefit Potomac State baseball team (expected signers include John Kruk and Ryan Klesko), Kelley National Guard Armory, Keyser, W.Va., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (304) 788-6880.

Dec. 3, card show, Earleigh Heights Fire Hall, 10 a.m. to 4 pm., (410) 672-5859.

Dec. 4, card show, Holiday Inn Cromwell Bridge (I-695, Exit 29 south), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 239-7446.

Dec. 10-11, racing collectibles show (expected signers include Mark Martin and Todd Bodine), Lancaster (Pa.) Host Resort Motel (Route 30), Dec. 10, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Dec. 11, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (717) 687-0718, (717) 291-9621 or (717) 569-1478.

Dec. 10-11, card show, Virginia State Fairgrounds, Richmond (expected signers include Ken Griffey, Jeff Bagwell, Kyle Petty and Harry Gant), Dec. 10, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Dec. 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (800) 899-8833.

CARD OF THE WEEK

Gold Standard by Signature Rookies features 100 newcomers in baseball, football, basketball and hockey. There are three insert sets, including 24 Hall of Famers who have signed randomly inserted cards. Production has been limited to 4,950 10-box cases (36 packs per box). (Shown is the Expos' Cliff Floyd.)

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