Dick Perez is undoubtedly the most well-known baseball card artist in the industry. He painted the famous Donruss Diamond King cards and does the Topps Allen & Ginter and Turkey Red as well. He kindly took the time to answer my questions about his baseball card experiences.
1) Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories about cards you created (or cards of yourself)?
Most of stories about cards I created have to do with the Perez-Steele Hall of Fame Art Post Cards. Here is just one of them. There were a few Hall of Famers who refused to autograph these cards because they thought we were ripping them off, Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio among them, even though they knew that we were in partnership with the Hall of Fame and they had signed waivers before they were produced. In fact, Joe DiMaggio had seen one of his HOF cards in a Cooperstown store window that was autographed by him and was selling for $350.00. He thought we were getting that money and called my partner Frank Steele to complain and to tell him that he was not going to sign anymore of those cards. Frank told him that all we got was .50 cents for the sale of his card, just like any other member of the Hall, which outraged him even more to find out that his card was selling for the same money that lesser than him Hall of Famers like Burleigh Grimes, Charlie Gehringer, Billy Herman, etc., were selling for. I read in the Richard Ben Cramer biography of DiMaggio that at hobby shows he would put up a list of things he would not sign, such as gloves, caps, jerseys and a bunch of other stuff, near the top of the list were Perez-Steele Cards. Eventually, players began to sign the cards when they found out that they could get more for an autograph on a Perez-Steele card due to their rarity. I don't know if Joe D ever did, though.
2) Do you have favorite card?
If you mean cards that I have created, my favorite year for Diamond Kings was the 1995 collection, so my favorite card from that entire body of work is the '95 Chili Davis DK. By then Donruss let me do anything I wanted to do. I was tired of painting realistic watercolors year after year so in '94 and '95 I decided to get more stylistic and experimental. At the time I got no feedback from collectors about the new style, it is only in later years that I have received numerous comments and emails from grown up kids from those years telling me how much they appreciated the style.
3) Do you collect baseball cards?
Not anymore. I collected when I was a kid in the '50s. My favorite set was the 1952 Bowmans and 1953 Topps. These were art cards, so to speak, and it was what inspired me to seek a way to bring art back to baseball cards. My favorite cards of all time, though I wasn't around to collect them, were the popular T-3s, better known as Turkey Reds produced in 1911. If you visit my web site and click on Topps and then Turkey Red Statement you will know why.
Thanks! Everybody seems to like Diamond King cards with the Angels - Luis Polonia's favorite was also a Diamond King in a Halo uniform.