April 29–May 4, 2014

Norman Rockwell’s 'The Rookie'

Celebrate the Red Sox and Norman Rockwell’s 'The Rookie'

Celebrate the 2013 World Champion Red Sox, and see the beloved Norman Rockwell painting The Rookie (1957). Rockwell’s classic work portrays a group of seasoned players sizing up the newest team member in the Red Sox locker room during spring training in Sarasota, Florida. The painting was previously on display at the MFA in 2005 and 2008, following those memorable World Championship wins for the Sox.

“We are proud to celebrate our hometown team and Red Sox Nation by showcasing a quintessential painting from one of America’s most beloved artists,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director.

Rockwell was best known for narrative images of seemingly everyday moments in American life—and baseball was a favorite subject. The painting’s celebration of America’s pastime captures catcher Sammy White (at lower left of painting); pitcher Frank Sullivan (No. 18), on the bench next to outfielder Jackie Jensen; Ted Williams (center); and infielder Bill Goodman (far right), suppressing a smile. On the far left is a figure Rockwell called “John J. Anonymous,” an aspiring ballplayer who finally “made the team.” Figuring prominently in the work, dressed in a suit is the “rookie” (right of center), who was actually Sherman Safford—a local high school athlete from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, who was asked to model for Rockwell. Ted Williams was the only player who did not pose for the work; Rockwell relied on baseball cards for the details of his face.

The painting appeared on the cover of the March 2, 1957 edition of the Saturday Evening Post, a publication most closely identified with Rockwell, and for which he produced more than 300 covers.

Above: Norman Perceval Rockwell, The Rookie (Red Sox Locker Room), 1957. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of Christie’s, New York. The Rookie illustration © SEPS licensed by Curtis Licensing Indianapolis, IN. All rights reserved. Image appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, March 2, 1957.

  • Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Visitor Center (130.10)