The Nationals’ 12-10 win over the Marlins on May 24, which marked the turning point after the team’s 19-31 start, makes up part of Zimmerman’s black glove. Washington’s 5-4 win over the Astros in Game 1 of the World Series, during which Zimmerman, the team’s original draft pick, hit the franchise’s first Fall Classic home run, flanks the white script of his navy blue jersey.
“I’m really happy with how this turned out,” Duffy said in a phone interview. “It’s not easy to paint a very handsome gentleman who doesn’t have too many distinguishing features, like a beard or something. He’s kind of got a little baby face, but luckily he had a little scruff going on. This is the moment he won, before he was able to jump into anybody else’s arms and join his teammates. I love to do that moment.”
Duffy’s first calligram depicted Brad Lidge in a similarly joyous pose, after the reliever closed out the Phillies’ second World Series title in 2008. Duffy, a Philadelphia sports fan, said he made the piece to impress his then-girlfriend, who encouraged him to sell copies of the print in the Citizens Bank Park parking lot the following year. A decade later, Duffy, who would marry his girlfriend, creates word art for a living.
Zimmerman represents the 15th piece in Duffy’s “Road to the World Series” collection, all of which are available for $49.99 on ArtOfWords.com. Duffy has created artwork for most of the World Series champions since 2008, but he couldn’t bring himself to commemorate the Cardinals’ title in 2011. St. Louis defeated Philadelphia in the National League Division Series that year, with Chris Carpenter outdueling Roy Halladay in an epic 1-0 win in Game 5, and Duffy never quite got over it.
“That was too painful for me,” he said. “I’ll have to get back to that one.”
Despite the Nationals’ status as a division rival of the Phillies, Duffy didn’t have the same hang-up about creating his Zimmerman piece. He even praised Washington’s decision to not re-sign Bryce Harper last offseason and suggested Philadelphia will come to regret the contract it gave the former MVP sooner rather than later.
“I’ve always been a fan of the underdog, and the Nats totally were an underdog this year,” Duffy said. “It was a race to even get into the playoffs. Also, to be perfectly honest with you, I just did a piece for Houston [after the 2017 World Series], so I didn’t want to draw [José] Altuve again. There’s just a couple teams that I couldn’t stomach to ever do, and that would be the [Dallas] Cowboys and the [Pittsburgh] Penguins. That’s it.”
(Now there’s something that fans of Harper’s current and former teams can agree on.)
Duffy doesn’t only draw baseball-themed prints. He has done cityscapes and created an Alex Ovechkin piece to commemorate the Capitals’ Stanley Cup triumph in 2018. On Tuesday, he was busy finishing an illustration of New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree’s incredible helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII to have available at the Union Square Holiday Market in New York later this month.
“I look forward — well, not really — to possibly doing a Redskins piece once you guys get a real owner,” Duffy, 39, said with a laugh. “Hopefully I can live a long time and do one in my 80s.”
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