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Located on Freemason St. —
Open Saturday and Sunday

Noon to 5 p.m.

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Barry Arts Building at 4600 Monarch Way —
Tuesday-Thursday

10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Moses Myers House

The oldest Jewish home in America open to the public as a museum offers a glimpse of the life of an early 19th century merchant family.
More about the house

About the Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Art Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

Willoughby-Baylor House

Completed in 1794, this former home now presents a mix of art and artifacts. See what's on view

Located in Norfolk

One Memorial Place,
Norfolk, VA
Get Directions

While You're Here

Visit our Museum Shop
and the Wisteria Cafe.

Perry Glass Studio

A state-of-art facility on the Museum’s campus. See a free glassmaking demo Tuesdays–Sunday at noon. Like what you see? Take a class with us! More about the Studio

Moses Myers House

The home of the first permanent Jewish residents of Norfolk, this historic house offers a glimpse of the life of a wealthy early 19th-century merchant family.
More about the house

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the Library

Weddings & Event Rentals

The perfect place for your big day or special event. Get the details

Take a tour

We offer a number of tours on different topics. More about tours

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Visit one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

About the Chrysler

Our story spans well over 100 years. See where we began, how we grew, and where we're going. Explore our history

News and Announcements

See what's happening at the Museum, read Chrysler Magazine, and find our Media Center. Read now

Location

745 Duke Street
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-333-6299

Always Free Parking

Get Directions

Third Thursdays

Live art performances monthly.
See the archive

Studio Team

Meet the brilliant minds behind the Studio.
See the team

Studio Assistantship Program

Further your career and join us in Norfolk.
Applications available Fall 2019

The Masterpiece Society

Learn about this innovative group of museum supporters.
Meet the Masterpiece Society

Planned Giving

Help ensure the long-term success of the Museum.
Learn about planned giving

Historic Houses

Located on Freemason St. —
Open Saturday and Sunday

Noon to 5 p.m.

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Barry Arts Building at 4600 Monarch Way —
Tuesday-Thursday

10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Moses Myers House

The oldest Jewish home in America open to the public as a museum offers a glimpse of the life of an early 19th century merchant family.
More about the house

About the Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Art Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

Willoughby-Baylor House

Completed in 1794, this former home now presents a mix of art and artifacts. See what's on view

Located in Norfolk

One Memorial Place,
Norfolk, VA
Get Directions

While You're Here

Visit our Museum Shop
and the Wisteria Cafe.

Perry Glass Studio

A state-of-art facility on the Museum’s campus. See a free glassmaking demo Tuesdays–Sunday at noon. Like what you see? Take a class with us! More about the Studio

Moses Myers House

The home of the first permanent Jewish residents of Norfolk, this historic house offers a glimpse of the life of a wealthy early 19th-century merchant family.
More about the house

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the Library

Weddings & Event Rentals

The perfect place for your big day or special event. Get the details

Take a tour

We offer a number of tours on different topics. More about tours

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Visit one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

About the Chrysler

Our story spans well over 100 years. See where we began, how we grew, and where we're going. Explore our history

News and Announcements

See what's happening at the Museum, read Chrysler Magazine, and find our Media Center. Read now

Location

745 Duke Street
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-333-6299

Always Free Parking

Get Directions

Third Thursdays

Live art performances monthly.
See the archive

Studio Team

Meet the brilliant minds behind the Studio.
See the team

Studio Assistantship Program

Further your career and join us in Norfolk.
Applications available Fall 2019

The Masterpiece Society

Learn about this innovative group of museum supporters.
Meet the Masterpiece Society

Planned Giving

Help ensure the long-term success of the Museum.
Learn about planned giving

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ArtExhibitionsPast

Having a Ball

On View

July 6, 2017 — August 27, 2017

Located in

Past Exhibition

In the glory days of ’50s baseball cards, the trade value was on the front but the magic was on the back.

In the days when Googling a baseball question meant opening a shoebox under your bed, the back of the card brought you stats, stories, and cartoons in a distinctive, heroic style.

George Sosnak took it one better. He inked that magic directly onto baseballs. He tranformed a style into an art form all his own. His work now transcends memorabilia. It’s a uniquely American form of folk art.

George Sosnak Ernie Banks
George Sosnak Ernie Banks India ink on manufactured baseball 1989 Courtesy of a local private collector.
The artist and his work.
The artist and his work.

Sosnak spent decades as a baseball umpire, and if you are living the baseball life, you have a lot of down time. While waiting to work a minor league game in Idaho in 1956, he was asked by a female fan if he could paint her favorite player on a baseball. The amateur painter said yes and the rest is history. He gave her the baseball as a gift. He went on to paint, and give away, hundreds more.

Over time his reputation spread, and he mixed commissioned baseballs with projects of his own. In many cases he would start with a star’s signature, then build his design around it. He memorialized great moments and championship teams, but he also recorded oddities and trivia. There’s a Sosnak ball on the player who was traded for a candy bar. There’s one for Johnny Mostil, by legend the only center fielder to ever register an out by catching a foul ball.

Experts have pored over his life and work since his death in 1992, and above all else there’s this: Sosnak painted because he loved baseball. He painted because he was happy to oblige. It wasn’t about making a living as a painter; his off-season jobs ranged from donut maker to construction worker. He never officially made it to the bigs as an umpire, but from his home in Lakeland, Fla. he umpired spring training games for the Detroit Tigers.

Legendary Tigers manager Sparky Anderson acknowledged both sides of Sosnak’s career in a quote that would have made him proud. “He did the most wonderful job of hand-painting a baseball. He was the best I’ve ever seen at doing his job. He also did a good job of umpiring.”

George Sosnak Cedar Rapids Braves
George Sosnak Cedar Rapids Braves India ink on manufactured baseball 1960 Courtesy of a local private collector.
George Sosnak Yogi Berra
George Sosnak Yogi Berra India ink on manufactured baseball 1980s Courtesy of a local private collector.
George Sosnak Chicago Cubs
George Sosnak Chicago Cubs India ink on manufactured baseball 1989 Courtesy of a local private collector.

In addition to baseballs (roughly 3,000 started and an estimated 800 finished) he completed a number of two-dimensional works, too, including a poster that’s now in the collection of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Professional Baseball Centennial, 1869-1969, features club and league logos and even the artist’s signature whimsical player portraits. Sosnak donated the poster to the Cooperstown, N.Y. institution in 1973, and the hall has graciously lent it to this exhibition.

Towards the end, the man who could turn a baseball into a humorous sort of round mural set out to paint a baseball for every player in the Hall of Fame. Today, they are some of his most sought-after balls by collectors. He didn’t complete the project, but we are pleased that his Willie Mays Hall of Fame ball is part of this exhibition.

Having a Ball: George Sosnak’s Striking Portraits from America’s Pastime will be on view July 6–Aug. 27, 2017.

Most works on view here are on loan from a generous local private collector.

More special exhibitions

On view right now

Chaos and Awe Exhibition
Through April 28, 2019

Chaos and Awe:
Painting for the 21st Century
Exhibition Details

Beth Lipman in the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio
Through December 31, 2019

Adeline’s Portal
Exhibition Details

From the Collection