There are certain things baseball fans just have to do when they visit a ballpark for the first time. Before they even enter the stadium, they are required, as if by law, to pose for a photo with the statues outside the ballpark. There are dozens of statues around the major leagues, honoring legends of the game. Some are wonderful works of art and a great tribute to the player. Others make you wonder, “What was the artist thinking?” Here are 10 of our favorites.
10. Robin Yount, Milwaukee
The Yount Monument is one of four at Miller Park, along with statues honoring Hank Aaron, Bud Selig and (of course) Bob Uecker.
9. Brooks Robinson, Baltimore
Robinson, who retired 40 years ago, is still as beloved as any Oriole in franchise history. A private group raised $700,000 for the statue, which was unveiled in 2011 on a plaza between Russell Street and Washington Boulevard across from Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Yes, Robinson is wearing a Gold Glove. He won 16 of them during his 23-year Hall of Fame career.
8. Ted Williams, Boston
You would think Williams, widely considered the greatest hitter in baseball history and the face of the Red Sox for almost a generation, would have been honored with a statue soon after his retirement in 1960. No. More than 40 years passed before this statue of Williams went up outside Fenway Park’s Gate B in 2004. Hank Evanish, who served in the Marine Corps with Williams during WWII, donated the statue. Williams is placing his cap atop the head of a cancer patient at the Jimmy Fund Clinic, a longtime charity partner of the Red Sox.
7. Bob Gibson, St. Louis
Baseball fans generally love the design of intimidating Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson’s statue — but did the artist have to make it so small? As shown, the fan mimicking Gibson’s pose dwarfs the statue. Gibson isn’t the only smaller-than-life statue outside Busch Stadium, as Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith and other Cards stars suffered a similar fate.
6. Juan Marichal, San Francisco
Artist William Behrends designed this striking sculpture of Marichal, along with statues of Willie Mays (see No. 4 below), Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry that surround AT&T Park. Will he soon be working on a Madison Bumgarner likeness?
5. Frank Howard, Washington
This tribute to Howard outside Nationals Park, along with statues of Walter Johnson (in the background of photo) and Negro Leagues legend Josh Gibson have been widely criticized by both baseball fans and art critics alike since being unveiled in 2009. The statues’ strange appearance attempts to capture the fourth dimension of movement. (Note the arc of Howard’s bat.) We’re certainly not art critics or experts, but we’ll give the husband-wife team design team of Omri Amrany and Julie Rotblatt-Amrany credit for trying something different, rather than just the typical stance common to other statues. The statues, shown here in their original location in the Center Field Plaza, have since been relocated to the opposite side of the stadium to reduce congestion at that entrance.
4. Willie Mays, San Francisco
Dedicated just before AT&T Park opened in 2000, this statue is fittingly surrounded by 24 palm trees. AT&T Park may have the greatest collection of statues of any MLB park. In addition to statues of Mays and the aforementioned Marichal, McCovey, Cepeda and Perry, there’s also a statue of a seal playing with a baseball, in honor San Francisco’s longtime minor league team the Seals.
3. Bill Mazeroski, Pittsburgh
If the pose looks familiar, it should — that’s the iconic image of the Pirates’ second baseman as he rounded second base after his historic walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series against the Yankees. PNC Park also has statues honoring legends Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Honus Wagner.
2. Ty Cobb, Detroit
So many statues of great hitters show them in their batting stance. It can be kind of predictable. This enormous 13-foot-tall sculpture in Comerica Park’s left-center field concourse shows Cobb at his most fearsome, sliding hard into a bag. Are those spikes sharpened? They sure look scary.
1. Ernie Banks, Chicago
After Banks’ death in January 2015, his statue was temporarily relocated to Daley Plaza so everyone could pay tribute to Chicago’s “Mr. Cub.” It returned to Wrigley in time for the season. The pose is rather bland, but considered all together, the popular Banks, along with the backdrop of the marquee on 100-plus-year-old Wrigley Field, this statue works so well. The inscription on the 7-foot-tall statue reads, naturally, “Let’s play two.”