Near as I can tell, LeRoy Neiman didn’t do any work for the Texas Rangers or of any players when they were with the Rangers. The only thing I’ve been able to definitively tell in an online search is Neiman did paint two pictures of players who at one time were Rangers. There’s this one of Nolan Ryan, painted before he was a Ranger when he was with the Houston Astros:
And there’s this one of another Hall of Famer, Gaylord Perry:
Maybe Rangers players weren’t on Neiman’s radar in his prime. Why would they be, after all, since the Rangers were the epitome of mediocre at that time? However, between baseball, basketball, boxing and just about every other major televised sport during my formative years in the 1970′s, the artwork of Neiman was found everywhere: on televised sporting events, in magazines, even on billboards. In the late 70′s, Neiman was arguably the most well-known living artist in the United States, rivaled only by Peter Max and Andy Warhol. I even have a vague recollection of him doing a painting live, maybe as part of a pre-game show, although I could be wrong about that.
Many men might also remember Neiman for his illustrations for Playboy Magazine, but it was his work with sports that I remember most. His style was unique and colorful. Realistic? No, he was no Norman Rockwell. Yet you could tell Neiman paid close attention to a player’s motion and captured the essence of it. Like most “commercial” artists, Neiman’s work probably elicited more comments along the lines of “That’s pretty cool” than those who would argue the juxtaposition of this and that and how the work it “speaks” to them.
LeRoy Neiman passed away yesterday at the age of 91. I’d rather thank him today for the beauty he brought to the world than write just another recap of a Rangers game. RIP, LeRoy. Your work was pretty cool to me.