I was drawn into Marjorie Phillips’s Giants vs Mets (1964) not only for its outstanding perspective and subject matter (her baseball paintings are among my very favorites at The Phillips Collection) but also for the unique moment in the game that she chose to capture. Since there is no scoreboard featured we cannot distinctly determine the exact point in time or the score of the game, but we see runners at second and third, which presents a scoring opportunity for the team at-bat. The right-handed hitter (determined by the positioning of his follow-through) has just made contact with the ball, as we see several players looking skyward. However, the runners at second and third are not actively sprinting towards their destinations, and the player in left field is actively locating the ball in the air.
Doing some further research, this particular game may have been the May 31, 1964 game between the San Francisco Giants at the New York Mets. They played a double-header, San Francisco taking the first game 5-3 and also the second, marathon-length 7 hour and 23 minute game by a score of 8-6. That second game lasted 23 innings and New York tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring 3 runs to force the extra innings. Joe Christopher was at bat for the Mets and he hits right-handed, driving in a home run to left-field/center-field to bring home Roy McMillan from third base and Frank Thomas from second base.
See what Duncan and Marjorie likely saw on their visit to Shea Stadium for Mets vs Giants:
In this work, Marjorie Phillips has painted the old Polo Grounds, former home of the New York Giants and the Mets home in 1962 and 1963. Shea Stadium opened in 1964.
I should clarify. In 1964, Marjorie Phillips has painted Mets game played in either 1962 or 1963. This work is definitively of the old Polo Grounds, former home of the New York Giants and the Mets home in 1962 and 1963. Shea Stadium opened in 1964.
I definitely concur with Nick. Also, although it’s hard to tell which team is at bat, the white uniforms (home team Mets) appear to be in the field and the Giants at bat. In any event, the Polo Grounds has particular significance because it served as the Giants ballpark for many years before moving to San Francisco.
We knew you baseball fans would let us know if we were on the right track! After some searching, I did find an article in which Marjorie discusses being introduced to baseball by Duncan and that she asked him to take her to a game at the Polo Grounds, though that comment isn’t related to this particular painting. Either way, we love that her work has made everyone take a closer look. For more on Duncan and his love of baseball, check out this post: http://blog.phillipscollection.org/2011/06/26/happy-125th-birthday-to-duncan-phillips/