1997 mixed media with found objects 10 x 12 Collection of Tom Hardiman
Ray Dandridge was called the greatest third baseman never to make the Majors. His velvet touch and rifle arm complemented a lifetime plate average of .355. In 1944, he finished third in the league in stolen bases behind Henry Kimbro and Cool Papa Bell. Dandridgeâ€™s career was split between the Negro Leagues and the Latin leagues where he was lionized as one of the greatest players. In 1939, Dandridge played in three different leaguesâ€”Venezuelan, Mexican, and Cubanâ€”he helped his first two teams win championship titles and in Cuba his team, the Cienfuegos, lost a title by one game. Dandridge returned to the States after nearly a decade in the Mexican leagues and in 1949, at 35, he was recruited by the New York Giants and assigned to their AAA farm club in Minneapolis. There, Dandridge compiled batting averages of .363, .311, and .324. He was the leagueâ€™s MVP in 1950 and led the Millers to the league championship. Yet he was never promoted to the Giants and retired from baseball a couple of years later.
In this portrait, I have placed billboards behind Dandridge of a Caribbean theme to harmonize with his Veracruz uniform. It was not uncommon for Negro Leaguers to play year-round out of financial necessity, spending their winters playing abroad in warmer climes. The velvet border behind his portrait is a visual pun on his famously soft touch with the glove.