Family Memories Inspire Baseball Artist

New Jersey Jewish News – Article by Ron Kaplan, photos Courtesy Graig Kreindler

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Family Memories Inspire Baseball Artist

Portrait of the artist as an artist: Graig Kreindler works on his painting of Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series for the Yogi Berra Museum.

July 5, 2007 – Fortunately for Graig Kreindler, his grandmother did not follow the cliche of tossing out his dad’s baseball card collection. If she had, he might never have developed a love for the game that turned into a career as a highly-sought-after sports artist.

While other kids were mad for Mantle or cooing over Koufax, the 27-year-old painter preferred the likes of obscure Yankees such as Matt Nokes and Dan Pasqua. “I really loved the photographs on their cards,” Kreindler said during a telephone interview. Those photos became the inspiration behind his work.

Kreindler, who was named by his father after Graig Nettles, the Yankees’ all-star third baseman (1973-83), is hard at work on his latest project: a four-foot-square rendering in oil of Don Larsen leaping into the arms of catcher Yogi Berra upon the completion of the only perfect game in World Series history. The painting will be displayed at the Yogi Berra Museum and Education Center in Little Falls after major renovations are completed next year.

Kreindler said he would be embarrassed to think of the legends he has painted — such as Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio — looking at his work. “I never feel like it does them justice. Maybe that’s in my mind; it’s just a perfectionist thing.” He takes equal measures of pride and horror in his methods: He’s been known to discard drawings and start from scratch rather than try to make a fix.

“Baseball is so well documented visually,” said Kreindler, who does a hefty amount of research to try to find the exact color to match a scoreboard advertisement or team uniform patch. His goal is “obviously to make it accurate to whatever reality I’m recreating, but with each subject it changes; some subjects are easier than others.”

For those who saw Larsen pitch his perfect game and Berra’s jump into his arms, said Kreindler, “hopefully the painting is a reminder of that, and it brings them back to the days when they were at the ballpark with their father or grandfather.”

Kreindler enjoys bringing those memories to life for today’s fans. His own Grandpa Abe, a fan of the New York Giants, was the inspiration behind what he considers one of his favorite works: a portrait of Carl Hubbell. “I like the idea that 60, 70 years ago, he was a household name and the fact that he’s somebody that someone like my grandfather saw — that’s also very appealing to me.”

Kreindler is currently in discussions with the Commack, Ny based National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum on a project related either to Sandy Koufax or Hank Greenberg.” He has already done a painting of Koufax preparing to throw the final pitch of his 3-0 no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964. The artist became fascinated with the Hall of Fame lefty after graduating from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, intrigued by Koufax’s reputation as a recluse and his quiet heroism. “And, of course, the Jewish angle was also appealing to me.”

To see Kreindler’s artwork, visit