Batter up! – Rare Homer Davenport cartoons on display

August 2012 Posted in Arts, Culture & History

By Don MurthaAn illustration by Homer Davenport for the 1911 book \"America\'s National Game\" by Albert Spalding.

Although Homer Davenport is known by most as a world famous cartoonist who poked fun at the high and the mighty in public life, he was more than a political caricaturist.

Among his talents, interests, passions and intellectual pursuits, baseball ranked near the top of the list.

A gallery of Davenport baseball illustrations will be on display at Seven Brides Brewing, 990 N First St., Silverton beginning on Aug. 3.

The unveiling will include a lecture by Dennis Nyback of the Oregon Cartoon Institute in Portland.

Nyback is internationally known in the film industry, has been published in national newspapers and magazines and is a speaker at many colleges and universities throughout the country.

Silverton’s Gus Frederick, who is a scholar of Homer Davenport and his works and his history, arranged for the Davenport illustrations and for the appearance of Nyback at debut of Homer’s baseball cartoons at Seven Brides Brewing.

“I approached Nyback at the Stumptown Cartoon Festival in the Jack London Bar in Portland and he was pleased to do the appearance,” Frederick said.  “Jeff DeSantis of Seven Brides Brewing also agreed to allow us to hold the display at his place.”

Frederick said Davenport was a baseball enthusiast from his childhood days in and around Silverton.

Davenport’s cartoons in the Hearst newspapers drew the attention of Albert Spalding a long-standing friend.

Spalding was an outstanding pitcher and batter (.323) in the early days of baseball and later an administrator and league director. With his brother, he started a sporting goods store that grew into the Spalding Sporting Goods Co. of international fame.

Spalding engaged Davenport to produce a series of 18 illustrations for a book Spalding published, America’s National Game, a history of baseball.

The original drawings are now part of the A.G. Spalding Collection and are kept in the archives of the New York Public Library in the public domain.

The Homer Davenport Community Foundation paid for high resolution scans of the Davenport baseball illustrations, Frederick said.

“These baseball illustrations demonstrate that Davenport’s artistry extended beyond political caricatures that made him famous,” Frederick said.

The display at Seven Brides Brewing is titled “Wheelhouse” a baseball slang expression describing the batter’s power zone, at the waist and over the center of the plate.

The display will run through August and is sponsored by the Homer Davenport Community Foundation, the Davenport Project and Seven Brides Brewing.

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