Statue of Liberty gets MLB makeover
Versions of landmark to adorn NYC leading up to All-Star Game
An open letter to the people of France:
Bonjour! We in America are still very thankful for the Statue of Liberty.
She is a fine lady. She still stands for freedom and huddled masses and all of that.
But let's face it, she needed to dress for a baseball game like everyone else here.
So we thought you should know that we have taken a few, um, liberties.
Major League Baseball announced more details Thursday about the "Statues on Parade" that will have everyone talking. It is going to be the most amazing celebration of the Statue of Liberty since the 1986 centennial celebration in the New York Harbor.
There will be 42 Statues of Liberty, each standing 8 1/2-feet tall, stationed around New York leading up to the July 15 All-Star Game there. These will start showing up on Friday at popular locations around the Big Apple, including Times Square, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, the New York Stock Exchange and, yes, the Statue of Liberty.
Each one will be uniquely designed with bold graphics and colors featuring each of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Giants, the American League, the National League, four All-Star statues and statues commemorating the final season of Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium, an additional version for the host Yankees, and one to be determined to be painted by the artist as a surprise.
To celebrate the spirit of the occasion since you started all this, you can buy likenesses of these in France just like anyone can here in North America. Forever Collectibles, which has made those statues, also designed 9-inch figurine replicas that are now available at the MLB.com Shop.
So, what do you think your own sculptor, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, would think? As a powerful creative force, he no doubt would have loved this.
You commissioned Bartholdi to design a sculpture in 1876 to commemorate the centennial of America's signing of the Declaration of Independence. He had no instructions at the time about working baseball into the design, because how could he know? There was no Internet. But just think about how important baseball was to American life in that same year that he began creating Lady Liberty.
On Feb. 2, 1876, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs was established at a meeting in Chicago. Ten days later, Albert Spalding moved to Chicago and opened a sporting goods store that became known simply as Spalding -- and then that April he threw the first shutout in NL history, for the Chicago White Stockings. Teammate Ross Barnes hit the first home run in MLB history that same season.
Ah, yes, 1876 was a big year in American baseball. So had Bartholdi known that, he might have designed a baseball cap instead of the crown with its seven spikes that represent the seven seas and continents of the world. Had he known about Mickey Mantle, he probably would have said the seven spikes represent his number.
The Statues on Parade probably would make Bartholdi feel pretty good about his creation -- the fact that 42 versions of it will be prominently displayed in high-traffic areas around the Big Apple when the Midsummer Classic comes to town. They will go on display in the middle of this month and stay put until the week after the All-Star Game.
The statues themselves are not numbered, but if anyone happens to see these on a map in New York, they would notice that the Brooklyn statue is designated as No. 42. That would be a tribute to Jackie Robinson, who made a pretty good case for freedom in his own way. He broke baseball's color barrier in 1947 while with the Dodgers.
For the 2003 All-Star Game in Chicago, many people were mesmerized by the sight of giant bobbleheads scattered around the city, each of those also uniquely displaying MLB and team designs. The following year in Houston, there were big cowboy boots all across town, following a similar theme. It is nothing compared to what is about to happen in New York to pay homage to that statue you gave us over here.
Lady Liberty herself is made of copper 3/32 inches thick, and we have noticed that since you gave her to us, she gets hit by lightning a lot. That happens when you are 305 feet tall and made of a material commonly used to conduct electricity! It's no wonder she is carrying a torch that is lit up all the time.
That will not be the case with Statues on Parade and the figurines for sale at the MLB.com Shop. The 8 1/2-foot statues will be made of resin. While the real Statue of Liberty is 305 feet from base to crown, these are 78 inches for that dimension. These are 106 inches from base of statue to top of torch.
Each of the statues set up around town will weigh 250 pounds. Each will have a cement base weighing approximately 530 pounds. Bartholdi would have no problem making these, but he would have had to make a lot of them and he would have had to know his baseball. Wait till you see the Pirates version, with the big swashbuckler prominently over her midsection. Or that Cardinals version with the red face and the bird on the yellow bat, and the way it says "RALLY TIME" on the back of Angel Liberty.
We even found one of her in pinstripes. Of course.
Our personal favorite, however, might be simply the one where the statue is swathed in the Stars and Stripes.
It is especially important to let you know about the Statues on Parade, because it all helps us take better care of what you gave us. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these products will be donated to The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.
The imagination on these designs is incredible and we think you will be interested in what is about to happen to the whole Statue of Liberty thing here. Have you ever wondered what she might look like with a few trips to the hair salon? Lady is a redhead on the Astros statue, she has dark hair representing the A's, Indians and Mariners, and for the Nationals, she went Solid Gold. Just wait till you see a Red Sox red-and-blue version with a green Wally head on her backside. You just have to see these to believe it, and that is what people are going to be saying around New York shortly.
They are at the MLB.com Shop right now in figurine likeness if you want to see for yourself. Those make good collector's items, and since you really were responsible for this whole thing in the first place, we thought you might want to know.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.