Rec center to get statue of Babe Ruth Silver Run artist finds a home for sculpture in lobby of facility

Artwork needs modifying

Figure was made for 100th birthday anniversary project

December 02, 1996|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

As far as anybody knows, Babe Ruth never visited Westminster. Nevertheless, the city is about to get a donation of a 12-foot statue of the Bambino.

A statue of the Baltimorean-turned-Yankee George Herman "Babe" Ruth soon will loom in the lobby of Westminster Family Center on Longwell Avenue, just as soon as his larger-than-life figure can be cut down to size.

"It's true -- I'm getting Babe Ruth for Christmas," said Ronald J. Schroers, the city's supervisor of recreation. "They have to cut him down to fit in the lobby -- but it fits perfectly into what we're doing here."

The 8-foot figure is on a 4-foot wooden base -- making the fit a little too tight for the recreation center's ceilings.

Robert E. Cox, a 46-year-old decorative artist of Ellsworth Perriwinkle Ltd. in Silver Run, made the statue for the baseball legend's 100th birthday promotion last year at Westview Mall, which was held in conjunction with the Babe Ruth Museum.

When the show ended, Cox got his creation back -- and wasn't quite sure what to do with it.

The statue has been sitting on his porch for the past year, surveying the farm fields of Silver Run.

"There probably aren't a lot of homes in Carroll County that have an 8-foot statue of Babe Ruth on their porches," Cox said. "And it gets a lot of stares when it's in the back of a pickup."

"We joked that we were going to just put him in the center of the woods somewhere and have somebody just come along," said Ellen Graham, the company's production manager.

But after casting about for ideas, they offered the statue to the recreation center.

Schroers was surprised when Graham called him with the unusual offer and quickly agreed to take a look.

'It looks great'

"I went to go see it, to see if it would look right, and it looks great," Schroers said. "It's really for-real looking. They said they had to clear him out but they didn't want to just junk him, that it was like one of their kids.

"But my ceilings are only 12 feet. His head will be up to the ceiling."

"The ceiling in the rec center is not as tall," Cox said, "so I have to take a couple feet off the platform. It should only take a couple, three days. "

Cox said he usually does more decorative work, such as model homes and a current project at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Baltimore, where he is redoing its "absolutely sumptuous" 14-foot-by-30-foot altar screen.

The Babe Ruth statue -- in a caricature style showing him just completing a swing -- is made of foam over an aluminum armature, coated with fiberglass that gives the illusion of bronze.

"And it only weighs about 50 pounds," Cox noted.

Permanent home

In the Westview Mall show, Graham said, "He was at one end of the mall, and I don't think a lot of people saw him. We've been looking for a place to put him, but he was so big.

"Right now he's down, but he's getting ready to go to the rec center," Graham said. "Now he's found a permanent home. I was so thrilled that they took him. The adults will love it, and the kids too."

Schroers still can't quite believe that he is getting this unexpected gift, but said, "Good things have just been rolling our way."

Thomas B. Beyard, the city director of planning and public works, was similarly amazed. "How did we get it? I don't know -- but we're going to have Babe Ruth here in Westminster."

Pub Date: 12/02/96

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