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The Dream Scene
As everyone knows, the New York Yankees reign supreme as the premier and most dominant franchise in all of professional sports—now and likely forever. Not only does the pinstriped powerhouse boast an incomparable 27 championships and 40 pennants over 112 seasons, but it is also unsurpassed at the Baseball Hall of Fame where a record 23 Cooperstown inductees (players, managers and executives) list their primary team as the Yanks. Such heights of excellence initially posed a challenge when it came to singling out the ultimate icons for Jamie Cooper's Dream Scene. Yet the cream soon rose to the top as it became abundantly clear that—with all due respect to Berra, Rizzuto, Ford, Maris, Jackson and Rodriguez—there were 5 Bombers who stood head and shoulders above the rest in terms of their combination of Yankee prowess, loyalty, longevity and fame. In the final analysis, it was Babe, Lou, Joe, Mickey and Derek all the way. What's more, each enjoyed a signature banner year in the storied annals of Yankeedom upon which Cooper could then base their portraits: Ruth and Gehrig's 1927 Murderers' Row onslaught; DiMaggio's 1941 Streak; Mantle's 1956 Triple Crown; and Jeter's 1998 leadership of arguably the best all-around Yankees squad ever assembled. Drum roll, please...
The Babe ('27) with his 60th HR bat etched "T.Z." to mark final victim Tom Zachary; a cigar ashtray and sweet-spot-signed balls resting on the floor; and his final red locker chock full of more cigars, a fur coat, two-tone shoes, fan letters galore and a "Babe and You" phonograph record, along with—to soothe the aches, pains, indigestion and hangovers of his decadent lifestyle—a nice array of salves, balms and bicarb soda. (COOPER: "I've attempted to depict Ruth's primal nature, his indulgences and flamboyance, his flawed genius if you like. His overflowing locker represents not only his chaotic life off the field but the magnetic attraction he had on the public. He was the man, the idol, the superstar.")
The Iron Horse ('27) with his central position representing Gehrig's distinguished stature as the heart and soul of the Yankees legacy; a Ken-Wel zipper-back first-baseman's glove at his feet; and the industrial-style locker of his early days adorned with embossings of a literal Iron Horse and the "No. 4." (COOPER: "While the big personalities swirl around him, Gehrig sits quietly, serenely, at the heart of this painting, at the core of what it is to be a Yankee.")
The Yankee Clipper ('41) with a pair of white-ash game bats resting in his lap; a cigarette dangling between two fingers; a Chesterfield carton on his locker shelf; and display mementos of his 56-game hit streak, his candle-in-the-wind Marilyn and his famous quote, "I'd like to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee." (COOPER: "Joe is said to have been more introverted than the others, so I chose this great pose of him enjoying a postgame Chestfield, since he was one of the wholesome public spokesmen for it.")
The Mick ('56) with wall notches tallying his unbeatable World Series HR record; Ballantine beer in hand; and a locker stocked with family photos, Yoo-Hoo, period towels and numerous ace bandages to symbolize his nagging injuries. (COOPER: "It was a conscious decision to show Mickey as a fresh-faced, fun-loving kid in his Triple Crown year, as opposed to the more rough-around-the-edges Mantle of the 60s.")
The Captain ('98) with his hand resting on Gehrig's shoulder to convey, first, the universal respect held for the "Luckiest Man" by all future generations of the Bronx faithful, and second, the passing of the torch from Gehrig to Jeter as the all-time Yankees hits leader; the black bat used by Captain Clutch to hit .353 in the 1998 World Series; and his lucky Nike Air Jordan wristband. (COOPER: "Jeter stands overlooking the group of Yankees immortals. He bridges the gap between past and present pinstripers.")
Fulfilling the Dream
In the realm of art and pop culture, there's a grand tradition of fantasy mashups that unite various figures from across multiple generations into a cohesive singular work. But with this one-of-a-kind Yankees Dream Scene, Jamie Cooper is breaking new ground. His figures are more than mere statuary. They interact, they connect, they commune with each other. They practically live and breathe and walk among us. True to the spirit ofField of Dreams, Cooper has miraculously brought Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle back to life for one final hurrah—to play catch with Jeter, as it were, like Ray Kinsella and his father making up for lost time under an Iowa sunset.If you dream it, they will come. And so they have, in all their exalted glory. "Is this heaven?" asks Jeter. "I could have sworn this was heaven," Derek says. "The place where dreams come true." Well, maybe it is heaven then...a piece of Yankees heaven.