AP, April 9, 2007
With snow still surrounding the stadium, the Portland Sea Dogs on Monday unveiled a 9½-foot-tall bronze monument depicting a family of four heading to the ball park to enjoy America’s favorite pastime.
Bill Burke, son of Sea Dogs owner Daniel Burke, said his father wanted to give back to the community for the support given to the Dogs.
“When my father dreamed of this team, he never imagined what it would turn into. He had no idea the level of support,” Burke said.
In particular, Burke said his father enjoys seeing families and children at the games. That’s why he commissioned nationally recognized artist Rhoda Sherbell to create the statues depicting a family trundling to the park.
Initially, the six-figure gift was met with a cold shoulder after Sherbell’s preliminary model ran into opposition from members of the city’s public art committee.
The vice chairman of the committee declared that he was not enthused with designs featuring “white folks on pedestals.” Another committee member said Portland already had too many statues depicting “white, Anglo-Saxon people.” The committee also didn’t like the fact that the “family” wore clothing with the Portland Sea Dogs logo.
The committee voted against accepting the gift, based on photographs of a “maquette,” a small, preliminary clay design of Sherbell’s vision for the project. But the City Council ultimately voted unanimously to accept it.
The monument, on the sidewalk outside the city-owned ball park, consists of four statues depicting a boy wearing a baseball glove, his father with sunglasses and camera in his pockets, and a mother carrying a baby girl and a teddy bear.
No one mentioned the earlier controversy during Monday’s wind-whipped unveiling attended by Sherbell and city and team officials.