The name of this blog is more than a catchy title to grab people’s attention. It was born of my connection with baseball that inspires and fuels all facets of my life. The story of Emily Wolfson and Unforgettaballs embodies the message of Baseball is my Muse more than any I have encountered thus far. Emily viewed a white baseball as a blank canvas, perfect for her focus on miniaturization in her artwork, before she even considered herself a fan of the game. Through painting baseballs, she found her love and passion for the pastime, and that exemplifies Baseball is my Muse in its purest form.
As a youngster in New Jersey, Emily Wolfson was surrounded by sports fans. Although her grandfather was passionate about the game of baseball, following all players and teams within the sport, Emily’s father was more a fan of attending games live than he was watching them on television. Without a baseball team in New Jersey, football took precedent.
In college, Emily began as a graphic design major but ultimately graduated with a degree in architecture. She believes that many factors converged to inspire Unforgettaballs.
“I think baseball was such a natural fit in so many ways. I should’ve seen it coming.”
Emily first painted on a baseball as a gift for her now husband. She appreciated the yin and yang of a baseball being split into 2 parts. She painted the field of blue and white stars of the American flag on one piece, while painting the red and white stripes on the other. This led to other ideas including the inside and outside of a watermelon and a dollar bill design. After selling her baseballs at some craft shows, Emily realized that there was much more potential in her new medium. People were showing interest in the balls, and Emily wanted to start creating pieces specifically for fans of the game of baseball. Her architecture background would soon become useful.
“I was really looking for something that was gonna resonate with people who were baseball fans who weren’t just people looking for logos. Not only was I not licensed, but that was already out there. So, I was trying to look for something else, and I think that’s why I came to this concept. You’re looking at this little world, this baseball in the palm of your hand, and you turn it around, and you should be able to see all these aspects of this thing you love.”
When Emily began painting ballparks on baseballs 25 years ago, photos and information about the stadiums were not nearly as prevalent as today. She had to rely on photos taken by fans who had attended games at the ballpark she was painting, but she saw this as an opportunity to connect with people who loved the sport and to see their perspective and understand what memories from the ballpark meant to them. From there, Emily dove into baseball history headfirst.
Baseball movies were another gateway for Emily into baseball fandom. She says she’s always been moved by the life lessons portrayed with baseball as the backdrop in such films as Bull Durham and The Sandlot. Baseball gives us a deep connection to each other and also to generations before us. Through her art, Emily was beginning to feel that connection more strongly.
“It’s sort of hard not to love baseball. There’s such a romanticism about it. It kind of grips you in that way.”
To date, Emily has produced over 150 designs for Unforgettaballs. Beyond ballparks, celebrated moments, and baseball movie tributes, Emily has also created World Series balls, commemorating a team’s path to a championship celebration. Each year, according to Emily, offers a unique snapshot of a team’s place in pop culture and of what the moments specific to each season mean to players, coaches, and fans of a championship team. Emily’s pieces offer much more than just a logo, something she is very proud of. She has never regretted the direction she took at the outset and has followed ever since. Among her favorite balls she’s painted are iconic ballparks like Old Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field, which Emily described as an interesting piece to paint. She also mentions her ball commemorating the presidential first pitch because of the detail that went into the research and creation of that particular painting. I, of course, am partial to her Dodger Stadium ball. I found that it truly captured the personality of Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and their historic home ballpark.
While I had Emily on the phone, I wanted her unique perspective on the state of women in the game of baseball. Although she considers herself more of an historian than someone with her finger on the pulse of today’s baseball landscape, Emily did remark that when she attends Phillies games, there are as many women in the crowd as there are men. She believes that there should be more of a spotlight on the women playing baseball in this country, and believes that a women’s league could offer said spotlight.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, Emily is waiting and hoping for Major League Baseball’s return. She was intrigued by the possibility of a realigned league, pitting teams against each other that normally wouldn’t play on a regular basis. I have to imagine there are more great Unforgettaballs designs in the works. As a matter of fact, in the course of our conversation, Emily took a note about a historical event that came up that she would like to commemorate with a painted baseball.
You can follow Emily on Twitter @unforgettaballs, and I urge you to check out her online shop at unforgettaballs.com. I will be doing some shopping there myself, so be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see how I display my Unforgettaballs once they arrive! Thanks for reading!