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Exhibition - Jerry Kalback Deadball Era Series: An Illustrator’s Process

Thursday, June 13, 2024 from 09:30am to 05:00pm

Massillon Museum

121 Lincoln Way East

Massillon, OH, 44646



The Paul Brown Museum within the Massillon Museum will host the Jerry Kalback, Deadball Era Series: An Illustrator’s Process exhibition through August 4, 2024. A free, public opening reception will be held on Saturday, February 10, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Jerry Kalback (1950–2021) was an avid baseball fan who, for many years, held Cleveland Indians (now Guardians) season tickets. Born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, he obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art education from SUNY Buffalo State College. After college, he studied for two years at the Illustrators Workshop in New York City. He taught visual communication design for 30 years at Kent State University, where he was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001 and honored with the title of professor emeritus upon retirement in 2013. 

Kalback’s commissions included artwork for clients such as American Greetings, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Cleveland Indians, Eddie Bauer, National Public Radio, Oberlin College, Ohio Watercolor Society, Reba McEntire, and the Wall Street Journal. 

Kalback was fascinated by the Deadball era of Major League Baseball (1900–1919) and worked on this special project for nine years until his untimely death in 2021. Included in this exhibition are 37 paintings and five sketchbooks filled with examples of Kalback’s preliminary drawings that would evolve to become each final painting. 

The Deadball era is generally considered to have spanned the years 1900 to 1919 and produced iconic players. Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Casey Stengel, Johnny Evers, and Honus Wagner are among the players Kalback illustrated. The era was characterized as a low-scoring, defense- and pitching-dominated game with relatively few home runs compared to today’s game.

Deadball-era pitchers were allowed to modify the ball during the game. It was common for pitchers to scuff the ball against a brick wall or emery board, spit on the ball, or rubbed dirt on the ball, making it harder to see. Because the same ball was used for the entire game, it would become increasingly dirty, scuffed, and worn, becoming a worn out “dead” ball that was difficult to see and hit and would not travel as far when a player made contact.
In 1920 Major League Baseball began replacing the ball frequently and prohibiting pitchers from modifying it. The inception of the “Liveball" era changed the game to today’s offense-dominated game.

The Massillon Museum thanks the Kalback Family, Anderson Turner, and the School of Art Collection and Galleries at Kent State University for loaning this collection for the exhibition. It is grateful for operating support from the citizens of Massillon, Ohio Arts Council, and ArtsinStark, as well as marketing support from Visit Canton. This exhibition is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Exhibition - Jerry Kalback Deadball Era Series: An Illustrator’s Process is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media
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