Scott Christopher to discuss his new book, ‘Baseball, Art, and Dreams,’ in Aspen
Christopher will appear at Explore on Friday
When Scott Christopher was 6 years old, he fell into a pile of glass behind home plate in a Little League game, sustaining injuries that included severed tendons, nerves, and arteries in his throwing arm. After overcoming the injury, he went on to become a college baseball star and played four seasons in the minors in the Baltimore Orioles organization. He still holds a stolen bases record from his time in the minors.
On Friday, he will appear at Explore Booksellers in Aspen to discuss his new memoir, “Baseball, Art, and Dreams,” which explores how he overcame monumental odds to live an extraordinary life.
But this is not Christopher’s first trip to Aspen. Now a full-time visual artist, he and his wife, Elizabeth, staged their Lightning Strike series in town in early 2023.
The Aspen Times recently caught up with him to discuss his upcoming event and why he believes baseball and art have so much in common. The below excerpts have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Aspen Times: Why did you decide to write this book now?
Scott Christopher: An article written by the highly-acclaimed sports writer, Thom Loverro, appeared on the front page of the Washington Times sports section, on April 10, 2014. His award-winning piece titled, “Injured Hand Didn’t Keep Scott Christopher from a Life of Baseball and Art” generated an overwhelming positive response, which I felt honored to be receiving. My artist wife, Elizabeth Hayes Christopher, and I had an art studio in Chelsea, New York City, for three years at this time. We were out and about in Manhattan one crisp fall day in October talking baseball, and she said to me, “If you don’t write your story, Scott, nobody will ever know it.” My heart and creative kiln knew it was time. That was the beginning of an almost nine-year literary odyssey.
AT: From your perspective, how are baseball and art similar and/or different?
SC: My player’s brick in the entryway of Charlotte, North Carolina’s Truist Field has inscribed in it, “The Magic of Baseball is Art.” To me, the fields are linear and geometric masterpieces. My mind would isolate sections of stadiums and turn them into abstract canvases. Sometimes, they reminded me of the great artist paintings of Wassily Kandinsky. All the people in the stadiums, including the players, were always moving about, which was very cinematic and kinetic, falling into the realm of art.
You would think the minds of artists and baseball players are quite different, but having been an artist in an athlete’s body my whole life, they are similar. Why? Both have to take in voluminous amounts of information to then be processed and acted upon in an outwardly way. The big difference is that you have only a second or less to make the decision to or not to take your rip on a pitch, steal a base, or make a play in the field.
For a work of art, there is no clock to make that immediate call.
AT: How does this theory manifest in your work on and off the field?
SC: One of my pieces, a genetic and humanesque-themed painting titled, “Our Genetic Footprints”, which I have been working on at intervals for 10 years, will be 40-feet-long by 16-feet-tall when completed. I visit my assorted panels, made from recycled cardboard, carved with a chisel, and painted with a very wide range of colors when I am called to do so.
I credit holding the all-time Baltimore organization stolen base percentage record to my extreme exposure to the photographic arts, both in front of and behind the lens. Because of a multi-dimensional cube, I developed to construct compositions in my mind; I implemented that skill on pitchers in the stretch holding me closer to the base.
If a movement was changed in one of the many sub-cubes within the larger block, I knew they were coming over to the base with a throw. If the movements remained the same as I had imprinted them, I was off to steal another base. This technique gave me a quarter of a stride advantage and in the world of swiping bases — that is a lot of real estate.
AT: What’s the greatest lesson you learned from baseball?
SC: Giving 110% will force the doors of your dreams to fully open, allowing them to come true. Teamwork is real, and it truly makes getting it done, being successful, and realizing your dreams possible. You can’t do it alone in athletics or life. Being engaged in the human experience is a magnificent reality. Loving the great game of baseball and everything attached to it added to my understanding of the greatest gift of all: love.
AT: How do you apply what you learned from baseball to your life and work as an artist?
SC: The work ethic and vision necessary to become a professional baseball champion takes years of hard work and commitment to become your own best player. In life and as an artist, I adapted these essential personality traits to give whatever I am attached to my all. I have been called over my artistic career the artist that never sleeps.
I did a drawing back in the 1980s that was a self-portrait of sorts. I was the sculpture with pedestals all around me. On them were blocks of granite that I had chiseled. My drawing symbolized the ever-changing thought process necessary to create. Baseball requires immediate adjustments in the batter’s box to adjust to the pitcher’s velocity and location. Art requires constant mental and physical adjustments on every piece of art I make. You stay still long enough, and your creative visions will grow roots, eliminating possibility, leading to a downward spiral, resulting in the artists’ ability to create death.
AT: What do you hope readers will take away from the book/your experiences?
SC: A takeaway from reading my book is written in my poem on page 218:
“All Dreams Are Anchored in Love”
Your dreams are meant to be pursued and seized,
as passions always open the gates wide in life to boldly walk through.
You must have the courage to believe in yourself,
knowing the possibility of it all lives in your heart.
All dreams are anchored in LOVE.
AT: Can you tell the readers about the film, “The Baseball Artist,” which is currently in development?
SC: Rich Henrich, founder and executive director of Film4Change, has won Emmy awards as a director and producer. He is an Emmy-nominated writer. His vast list of honors also includes being a Telly award-winning producer. Rich is the chief screenwriter of “The Baseball Artist,” a film based on the true story of Scott Christopher. Henrich, believing in the power of story and in this true-life tale, will share the magic of Dreaming Big to ignite a universe of possibilities.
Rich once remarked, “From a tree, both bat and paper are made, and together, they spin a tale of magic and wonder for the world to see.”
What: Scott Christopher author talk
When: Friday, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Explore Booksellers, 221 E. Main St., Aspen
Coming off a successful 40th anniversary summer season, Theatre Aspen will close out the year with its third annual holiday cabaret event entitled “A Christmas Carol Cabaret.”