1000 Original Artworks, 100 Quick Months, 10 Great Moments

Nathan Rueckert

Posted on April 15 2010

100 months.

That’s the amount of time it took to hand-craft the first 1,000 America’s Game artworks. Seems like it was yesterday when I came up with the crazy idea to destroy perfectly fine baseballs and mold them into an American flag artwork…and equally crazy to think about how such a small idea has made its way into so many homes and offices across the country. I thought it would be fitting to reflect on the average of 10 artworks formed per month over the last 100 months by creating a Top 10 highlight reel of my favorite Seams Co. memories. Hope you enjoy, and let me know what you think….

10. Random T-shirt and Artwork Sitings – I always get a big kick out of randomly running into strangers that are wearing my t-shirt. I remember one occasion when my wife and I were walking through a mall in St. Louis and saw a gentleman in a jewelry store that was wearing my shirt. Another time was at Busch Stadium when walking past a fellow baseball fan with obvious good taste in clothing. (In both occasions, I couldn’t build up the nerve to start a conversation). A third example was when my Uncle e-mailed me to let me know he discovered his boss at work had one of my lithograph prints…and wouldn’t believe that I was his nephew. Equally entertaining is when I wear my shirt and pretend to “know the guy” who makes them and see what people think.

9. St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-up – I’ve had booths at two of these shows and they are always a great time! What better way to spend a weekend in January than with die-hard baseball fans and discussing World Series hopes for the upcoming season. I usually attract crowds when cutting up baseballs and let kids run wild with unraveling the insides of the baseball (the parents are usually less enthusiastic about the string being all over their houses…).

8. Artwork for the Commish – Despite being much against Commissioner Bud Selig’s rule change to allow World Series home field advantage to the All-Star Game winner, I decided to send him a complimentary artwork nonetheless to see what he thought. I was very happy to receive back a signed letter from him stating the following: “The artwork is extremely resourcefully done and your love for both America and baseball is beautifully portrayed. I will certainly share this with my colleagues in baseball.” What a compliment!

7. Three balls from the War – One of the most enjoyable parts of being “the baseball flag guy” are the conversations I get to have with baseball fans across the country. One specific conversation I remember was at the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) convention in Orlando. An older gentleman was admiring my artworks and asked if I would be able to make an artwork out of his own baseballs. I informed him I do this all the time for people who want their artwork to look a particular way or if the baseballs have special meaning to them. He said that his dad was a US veteran from one of the wars and that one of the things his father did to pass the time while at war was play baseball. His dad has since passed away, but said that his mom still had a few very old, tattered baseballs that her husband had used during the war. The gentleman wanted me to make an artwork out of his dad’s baseballs and give it to his mom as a gift and fitting tribute to his father’s service in the war. Although the seams were literally falling apart and the tattered leather was nearly black from overuse and old age, I was able craft it into a beautiful work of art, and felt honored to be given the opportunity.

6. 2002 ABCA National Convention in Orlando, FL – In January 2002, one of my good college buddies, Wally Walters, and I drove from St. Louis to Orlando in a teal Dodge Caravan to the ABCA Convention. My newly formed company had a booth and I quickly learned that my lithograph prints and original artworks were a big hit. It was my first exposure on a national level to about 3,000 high school and college baseball coaches from across the country. It was fun networking with the coaches, who were thrilled to learn I would actually buy their old, waterlogged baseballs from them. Tommy Lasorda walked right by our table, but we didn’t even get a glance…

5. Show-Me St. Louis News Segment – I was fortunate enough to be featured on a day-time local NBC news show called “Show-Me St. Louis” in St. Louis, MO. The interview was well put together and was complimented with music from The Natural soundtrack. They aired the show on Opening Day 2004 and used my cell phone number as the company contact. About 10 seconds after broadcasting my segment, the phone rang for about 30 minutes straight! I ended up changing my voice mail to direct people to my web page. Funny follow up to this is that they re-aired the same segment on Opening Day 2005 without telling me. I was at the Cardinals game with a college buddy, “Switchy” Brandt, when my cell phone started ringing off the hook. We had a good laugh after listening to the messages and I’m sure had a round of $8.25 Bud Light’s to celebrate. (You can view the segment in one of my previous blog posts).

4. Used Baseball from the St. Louis Cardinals – In Spring of 2002, I was connected, through a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend to someone within the Cardinals organization that had access to their used practice baseballs. After hearing about what I do and that I was a college kid with a great idea, he shipped me about 40 baseballs to use for my artworks at no cost. The balls had beautiful grass stains, black and brown wood bat marks, and were rubbed up with that Major League mud. Each had the word “Practice” stamped under the MLB logo. I proudly keep one of the balls in a display case to this day. I decided that if I’m using Cardinals’ baseballs, that I should probably try to sell my products in Busch Stadium…which brings me to:

3. “America’s Game” Products in Busch Stadium -I wrote a letter to the Cardinals explaining my products and how they’d be a good fit for the Team Store. I was directed to Bill DeWitt III, who agreed to meet with me and go over the product line. I vividly remember taking the MetroLink light rail downtown to the stadium, wearing shirt and tie, hauling a portfolio of my products, wondering what in the world he would think. After patiently listening to my sales pitch in his oversized Busch Stadium office, he indicated he was impressed with what he saw and passed me along to the merchandise manager. Long story short, we worked out terms and the Busch Stadium Team Store has carried my products during three of the last eight seasons.

2. The Baseball Hall of Fame Museum Shop – When I was a kid, I always wanted to grow up and be a professional baseball player and dreamed of someday be in the Hall of Fame. Little did I know that I would eventually reach that dream….just not for my baseball playing ability! One of my first goals after establishing Baseball Seams Co. was to have my products sold in the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum Shop. After several phone conversations with the retail manager and sending them sample products, they agreed to feature my t-shirts, lithograph prints, and original artworks in their Holiday and Summer catalogs. The HOF carried the product line for a couple years and it was such an honor to have something that I made with my bare hands be sold on the hallowed ground in Cooperstown, NY.

1. “It’s a Gift for the President” – A week before President’s Day in 2003, I received a phone call from a White House staffer explaining that he’d like to order an artwork to personally give to President Bush on President’s Day. He wondered if I had time to do this, to which I replied…“um….YES, I think I can fit that into my schedule.” We quickly worked out shipping arrangements – for UPS to deliver to the West Wing of the White House. To this day, I wonder where that artwork is and what George W. thought of the piece. (After all, he was one of the former owners of the MLB Texas Rangers). Regardless of your political persuation, I can think of no greater honor than for our nation’s leader to display one of my artworks in his office or home!

That’s it! Thanks for reading and look forward to adding more great moments in years to come!

~Nathan

More Posts

0 comments

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing

Search our store