|The great Willie Mays was already gone to the Mets|
by the time I saw this illustration.
I give you — the works of Dave Beronio.
This is the stuff I promised to show way back when I wrote about my first baseball game 41 years ago.
The Giants split a doubleheader with the Cubs, and Dad, after a quiet sigh of "fer cryin' out loud," I bet, had split open his wallet for the dollar for the program.
Or yearbook, as the Giants were calling it. The Giants had won the National League West pennant the season before, and the yearbook basked in the glow, with a special logo befitting the design zeitgeist, and an out-of-focus photo of the great Willie Mays sliding into second base against what looks like the St. Louis Cardinals.
Half the fuzzy photo comprises the blue-green artificial turf that covered the field at Candlestick Park, and the year 1972 is printed in black over the green field.
Willie Mays was still the franchise at press time, though, and as I thumbed through the program, past the color photo essays and beer ads, I came upon Dave Beronio's drawing of Mays.
Candlestick Park and the rest of the world suddenly melted away. I sat bewitched. Somehow, with careful and yet carefree application of pencil — the same kind I pushed around a paper in maddening struggle — emerged Willie Mays, all life and light and likeness, exactly the man I had seen on TV and in photos.
Only moreso, somehow.
How did Dave Beronio mold the face just so, the shade here and light there, to make it dazzle? It was the best kind of magic. In the moment, and ever since, I have desperately wanted to draw like this.
|"Sudden" Sam McDowell|
Beronio was wise not to compose the lefty in a Giants hat, but to let the rockabilly hair and sideburns unfurl.
Beronio used black pencil on coquille board, a heavy paper with a pebbled surface. The pencil catches on the pebble shapes and creates a kind of dot pattern that made print reproduction easier.
Coquille board is somewhat old-school, popular in the mid 20th century among editorial cartoonists and newspaper illustrators.
Old-school would describe Dave Beronio, coming out of that fine time, before my time, when illustration daily graced the sports pages.
|A closeup of the coquille board texture.|
As an editor for his hometown Vallejo Times Herald and the Vacaville Reporter, Beronio did so frequently, which is how the Giants called on him to draw for the 1972 program.
Beronio was a gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress during World War II, flying 35 missions and earning the Distinguished Flying Cross.
He was distinguished for a special commemoration on the walls of Candlestick Park, the lone writer among pro athletes. And he introduced his friend Bob St. Clair when the San Francisco 49er was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
Thumbing through the program again, I am still enthralled by Beronio's drawings. Occasionally I'll find gestural cross hatching, just a hint of looseness. For the most part Beronio showed great patience and economy of style.
He drew just enough, until the work was just right. His subjects shone as a result.
Should you stumble upon this blog and know about Dave Beronio and his work, I'd love to learn more, the man and his process. His body of work seems so far to have eluded the magnet of the Internet.
Until then, I'm grateful for the magic.
|"Keystone Kids" Chris Speier at shorstop (my favorite) and Tito Fuentes at second base. Speier, in his|
second season in the pros, was that day's Brandon Crawford. Speier's only sin is that he's now
the bench coach for the Cincinnati Reds.