Tuesday, November 21, 2017

1980 Caricature Poster

     In the fall of 1979, Gary Darrell was a volunteer assistant coach for the Oakland Mills (Columbia, MD) High School Boys soccer team. There he met a team member/aspiring artist named Kevin Peddicord. That Oakland Mills team won the state championship, and to commemorate the achievement, Peddicord immortalized the squad in caricature form.

     The young artist astutely used his relationship with Darrell as an introduction to Dips Executive Vice President and General Manager Andy Dolich to pitch the idea of doing the same for the 1980 Diplomats. Dolich and Roger Moskowitz, the club's Director of Marketing, loved the idea and thought it would be the perfect give-away at a future home game.

     So, in the early months of 1980, aided by no more than a copy of club's media guide to base his initial sketches upon, Peddicord sat in a conference room in RFK Stadium with Dolich and Moskowitz. There, the three, "came up with distinct and humorous character traits for each player."

Kevin Peddicord today.
     It was an ongoing, often changing project that was a few months in the making. The 1980 Dips were injury plagued. As a result, "new players were brought in, so (Peddicord) had to draw them on separate pieces of paper and cut them into the poster." He laments with a chuckle, "no Photoshop in 1980!" Two clearly visible examples are Thomas Rongen (top row, third from left) and Mario Luna (far right, second from the bottom).

     Dolich and Moskowitz included some team inside jokes as captions for a few of the players. For instance, Johan Cruyff's propensity for arguing with officials, Tommy O'Hara's love of singing and Bobby Stokes' false teeth.

     Peddicord explained some of the more subtle player depictions and traits in his work. For instance,

  • Joe Harvath (second from left, second row): "Joe thought of himself as a fashionable man, but his teammates didn't always agree with his choices of apparel. They thought Goodwill was his tailor of choice!"
  • Wim Jansen (standing by bookshelf on right side of poster): "Wim was considered a well-read, studious player. Evidently, he is an intellectual, so he got the library."
  • Gary Darrell (bottom row, fourth form right): "Gary was an absolute practical joker. That's why he has devil horns and a lit firecracker. He always kept my OMHS team laughing as well."
  • Barney Boyce (third row, right side) was only 19 when the season began, hence the baby rattle.
  • The Soccer Bowl 80 trophy appears to the right of the goal. "Originally, it was a girl in a bikini (notice Bill Irwin's and Dragan Radovich's eyes are focused on it). The team loved the idea, but, after reconsidering, wanted to make it a bit more family friendly."

     "When I finished the art and brought it to RFK to show Mr. Dolich, I found myself riding up in the elevator with Johan Cruyff," Peddicord recalls. "He was very pleasant and interested to see what I was carrying. I obliged him, and he had a good laugh. All the players had a great sense of humor about the art. When each saw their caricature, they laughed and eagerly signed it. Dragan Radovich and Bobby Stokes were really enthusiastic about it. They were bringing other players over and pointing out all the characteristics I had given them."

      At the signing, the project turned quite lucrative for the artist. "After seeing the poster, team members began asking for their own individual caricatures. I would by frames and after each home game, I'd go down to the locker room and give them out at $20 a pop. Not bad for an eighteen year old kid!" That's putting it mildly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic's inflation calculator, $20 in 1980 is equal to $61 today.

     "Cruyff was the only player who didn't buy his. The art sat in his locker stall for the rest of the season. Gary (Darrell) gave it back to me, I still have it. Gary said Johan was a bit of a tightwad and didn't like to part with his cash!"

     So why wasn't Peddicord's masterpiece ever mass produced?

     "Team management wanted to give it away when the Dips reached the conference semi-finals of the 1980 NASL playoffs, but they were eliminated by the Los Angeles Aztecs in the first round. Shortly thereafter, they folded."

     Peddicord had a similarly frustrating experience the next year. Thomas Werblin, Sonny's son, was the GM for the New York Cosmos in the early months of the 1981 season and had the artist take the train from Washington to New York to discuss a similar project. The meeting went well, but Petticord was told to wait until the team had finalized their roster before starting. Two weeks later, Werblin was fired and the new GM was never told of the project.

     "Disappointing," Peddicord understandably states, "but overall a great experience."

I heartily encourage all to visit www.kevinpeddicord.com and see some of his more recent work.