If a picture’s worth a thousand words, how many words would it take to quantify Orioles history, from the time the team landed in Baltimore from St. Louis in 1954 to the Trey Mancini strikeout that ended the Birds’ 2017 campaign at Tropicana Field on Oct. 1?
For Philadelphia artist Daniel Duffy, the answer is simple: 1,046, the number of players that have donned Orioles orange and black in the team’s history.
Duffy, 37, has created one of this year’s hottest O’s-themed holidays gifts: a print celebrating the 25th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards that is comprised of the hand-written first initial and last name of every player to play for the Orioles.
“That’s a giant number,” says Duffy. “My fingers could use a break after this one.”
The print - available in two sizes, framed and unframed - took more than 70 hours to create, a process that matched Duffy’s love for the game and his admiration for Camden Yards.
“It was the 25th anniversary of the stadium, so it really seemed to work out,” he said. “It was the beginning of an era - the era of retro stadiums and the move away from multipurpose stadiums.”
Duffy has created similar “word art” before - he’s a Major League Baseball licensee whose career in this genre began when he crafted an ode to the Phillies’ 2008 World Series title, only to run afoul of MLB licensing regulations. Once he got permission from MLB to give some of the game’s iconic cathedrals the word art treatment, he rendered drawings of Wrigley Field in Chicago, Fenway Park in Boston and old Yankee Stadium in New York.
To Duffy, an image of Camden Yards was part of a natural progression, historically speaking. And it didn’t hurt that the Birds are one of his favorite American League teams or the streak-breaking 2,131st game Cal Ripken Jr. played at the ballpark ranks among his all-time favorite sports moments.
“This park literally started a baseball stadium revolution,” he says. “How many parks can say the same?”
Using a list of names culled from MLB.com and cross-referenced through Baseball-Reference.com, Duffy used Orioles’ names to create every part of the image, which shows the stadium from the concourse behind and slightly to the left of home plate.
To the untrained eye, it might look like a typical artistic image of Camden Yards. But everything - the sky above the ballpark, the Baltimore skyline, the grass of the batter’s eye, the B&O Warehouse, the fans in the stands and the baseball diamond - are comprised of the men who make up the team’s storied history.
Some names are smaller and some larger - but Hall of Famers are given no preference over guys whose career was no more than a cup of coffee (though Duffy knows who’s who and can tell you where certain key players reside in the image). Some names are darker and others are lighter, but those shadings are done to make the overall image realistic and not in some form of artistic preference. Remember, the names are listed chronologically, from 1954 through 2017.
“Obviously, it’s a laborious process,” says Duffy, adding that he keeps in mind that it will eventually “hang in someone’s home who will be appreciating it.”
“It’s more significant than doing another piece of art because I know there’s someone who’s going to buy it and have an emotional attachment to it,” he said.
And it’s painstaking work that Duffy takes as seriously as a scouting report before the seventh game of the World Series.
“Strangely, the odder names are the ones that are easier for me,” he says. “There’s nothing worse than thinking I’ve got a Steven with a ‘v’ and realizing that it should be a Stephen with a ‘ph.’ I can’t do anything but go back to the next letter. One letter at a time.”
Duffy stepped up production because he wanted the print available for sale at this week’s Christmas village at the Inner Harbor. When the Orioles saw and tweeted out the image last week, Duffy was floored. He says he’s donating the original to the team for display at Camden Yards.
To order the print online or view more of Duffy’s work, visit his website at www.artofwords.com.