Play ball! Cedars-Sinai spotlights the art of baseball film
Newswise – LOS ANGELES (August 16, 2022) – As baseball enters the final weeks of the regular season, Cedars-Sinai has opened a special exhibit, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game, 100+ Years of Baseball Movies & Entertainment .” It features hand-drawn posters of classic baseball-themed movies and in total consists of 35 elements.
These films cover titles as famous as It happens every spring, Casey at the bat and Jackie Robinson’s Storyas well as five films recalling the old New York Yankees-Brooklyn Dodgers rivalry, including Yankees Pride.
Not only are some of the sluggers depicted, including Robinson and Babe Ruth, larger than life characters. The posters themselves are also large in size, with some standing 6 feet tall or more, adding power to the striking display.
Cedars-Sinai is known for its vast collection of museum-caliber fine art, so “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is something of a changing ground for the medical center. Or, to put it another way, “It’s, pardon the pun, a little out of left field for us,” said John T. Lange, curator of the Cedars-Sinai art collection.
Still, Lange said that after he and members of the Cedars-Sinai Arts Advisory Council explored the idea, they realized the exhibit could be a home run. “The more we talked about it, the more we realized that we should do it,” Lange said. “Although it’s a little different, it’s a really fun exhibit. And I think one of the things we try to do with special exhibitions is reach a wider audience.”
Besides the love that so many who work at the medical center have for baseball, Lange said, Cedars-Sinai’s importance in sports medicine and its historic ties to the Los Angeles Dodgers have all figured into the thinking behind the ‘exposure.
The majority of the posters on display relate to films from 1927 to 1962. Lange decided to focus on this 35-year period for several reasons, including the poster craftsmanship and rich baseball history of the time, as well as the large poster sizes and limited display space.
The posters are on loan from Gary Cypres, a semi-retired businessman who describes himself as a rabid collector of baseball and other sports memorabilia. He is the founder and CEO of the Sports Museum of Los Angeles, a private museum of sports memorabilia located downtown.
Cypres also has ties to Cedars-Sinai. His wife, Kathi, has served on the board of governors of Cedars-Sinai since 2015.
For Cypres, posters are more than just artifacts of legendary baseball players and movies. “First and foremost, I consider these posters to be works of art,” he said. “Old movie posters were beautiful stone lithographs with beautiful colors.”
Cypres is also enchanted by the history that its posters represent. “In baseball you can find America’s history, and through movies, with their underlying themes, you can do the same,” he said.
Born in 1943 in the Bronx, home of the New York Yankees, Cypres grew up amid the storied Yankees-Brooklyn Dodgers rivalry of the 1940s and 1950s. Back then, he says, the Brooklyn Dodgers were “the ultimate enemy of a Bronx boy”.
But things changed after Cypres’ business career brought him to Los Angeles in the early 1980s, nearly a quarter century after the Dodgers arrived here. He grew to love the team and got into collecting Dodger memorabilia. Over the years, Cypres has exhibited artifacts at Dodger Stadium, including an exhibit related to the July 19 All-Star Game played at the ballpark this year.
Among the items on loan from Cypres that inspire Lange is a hand-illustrated poster of Babe Ruth for the film Baby come home.
“It’s so vintage. There’s no question when this came out,” Lange said. “It speaks to baseball, it speaks to art, it speaks to Hollywood.”
Lange also noted a photo that was included in the exhibit to complement a section of posters showcasing women in baseball. The photo shows a player slipping into a base while wearing a skirt. “Having played baseball myself when I was young, I can’t imagine doing this in shorts or a skirt,” he said. The women who did this “must have torn their legs. I don’t know how they did it. They were tough players, that’s for sure.”
One of the exhibition’s goals, Lange said, is to grab the attention of Cedars-Sinai staff, including those who, amid their busy routines, might not notice the art collection at medical Center. “When we make a change and do something like that, it gets their attention,” he said. “They start looking again, and they start seeing everything else.”
Read more on the Cedars-Sinai blog: My Favorite Artwork: Employees Reflect on Art and Healing