George Sosnak was one of the earliest recognized artisans to use a Baseball as his medium. In 1956, during his time as an umpire in Pioneer League, he fulfilled a fan request for a painted Baseball. Soon, his work became legendary, and everybody under the sun requested his work. Notably, he rarely turned down a request, and often gave the balls away as personal gifts. Sure, he got paid from time to time, but that wasn't his motivation. He needed an outlet, and painting on Baseball's became it.
His work can be found at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the American Folk Art Museum in New York City and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library (it includes a ball commemorating JFK’s Opening Day pitch at a 1962 Senators game).
All said, he has painted at least 800 Baseballs; while other estimates put the number as high as 3,000. Dave Bailey wrote a great article about George Sosnak at Sports Collectors Digest that is worth a read. Check that out here.
Below is a Branch Rickey painted ball. On one panel it commemorates the signing of Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers, and on another is his Hall of Fame plaque.
This next Baseball is of Jackie Robinson. This ball appears to be unfinished, and may have originally come from a mini-hoard purchased from Sosnak's widow after his death.
This next George Sosnak painted Baseball commemorates Johnny Podres and the "1955 World Series - Game 7". One panel features Podres embracing Roy Campanella after the Game 7 win.
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