illustration of willie mays by emily weil

daily painting | say hey

Since this version of my digital illustration of Willie Mays was rejected by the “Mays team” (licensing and bureaucratic and indecipherable legal reasons), I can post this now. I was thrilled (I mean, couldn’t-sit-still-ecstatic) to be called on to create a digital illo to be used for a logo being created by my lovely and talented freelance colleague who often creates designs for the SF Giants. The Giants front office loved my work but sadly Mays’ lawyers didn’t; they will use a silhouette of Mays that has been used (and approved of) in previous marketing materials. The logo was to be for a new program, “Willie Mays Scholars”, a non-profit group created by the SF Giants to support high school and college kids, timed to launch for Mays’ 90th birthday this month.

But still! Willie Mays himself looked at MY artwork, which absolutely sent me over the moon, regardless of the results and I’m still getting a little choked up about it as I write this. It took me back to my mom putting the Giants games on the kitchen transistor radio when I was a girl, when I fell in love both with baseball and the Giants. Mays is one of the greatest sports legends ever, and I adored him and the rest of that remarkable 1960s roster — in the early 2000s when the Silicon Valley dot-bomb disaster wiped out my design biz, I took on many odd jobs to survive, including counting money for Roberts Market in Woodside. When I was prepping money and checks for a deposit (I went home at night with green fingers), a check from Willie McCovey was in the stack and I about fainted. After that, the nice gals in that office where I worked PT would point him out when he came shopping (you could see the market entrance from the upstairs office). They wouldn’t, um, let me copy his check but it was exciting just the same (Shirley Temple came almost every day, and when I saw her at the deli counter I smiled and said hello and she smiled back). Love of our heroes is a fun part of being human, yes? Though with apologies to SF Giants greats, no one could ever outclass Eleanor Roosevelt in my personal pantheon. And, may Mays live forever.