Great Britain baseball artist Andy Brown has seen the baseball world with paintbrush in hand

September 28th, 2023
Photos and paintings courtesy Andy Brown. Design by Lexie Teas.

He has a uniform and travels with Great Britain Baseball. But the man with the trimmed salt-and-pepper beard is not a coach nor a trainer. You won’t find him on the field or in the dugout, either. Instead, you’ll find him in the stands, paintbrush in hand, perched thoughtfully over a canvas.

This is Andy Brown, and he’s the only official national team artist in baseball.

"To me, it's ridiculous. It is unbelievable," Brown said.

He pitched Great Britain manager Drew Spencer with his idea: He wanted to not just capture the games from on the concourse, but he wanted to follow Great Britain throughout their travels, giving people a look behind the scenes that is like nothing else out there.

"You know, what do the players do when they're not playing baseball? What are the bus trips like? What does the physio room look like? What do they do at night? Do they hang out or will they go to bed early?" Brown said. "I'd wrote an email to [Spencer] said, 'Hey, I'd like to do this. Here's my idea.' And Drew, straightaway, was totally into this.

This outcome was anything but expected. Brown, a charming man with a warm smile behind his beard, was like most people in Britain: He did not grow up with baseball as a part of his life.

Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. Brown actually has a drawing of a baseball player he drew out of a book when he was very young. The fact that his parents kept this all these years makes his current job seem almost like destiny:

"I guess I can't remember not drawing or not painting or it not being a part of my life," Brown told me before the start of the European Championships held in Czech Republic this week. "I remember getting one book when I was six or seven. It had all, like, cartoons you'd copy, funny faces, people doing funny things, blah, blah, blah. And there were these baseball pitchers with their arms flying around like this and all that."

A drawing Andy Brown did of a baseball player in 1986.

This wasn't the start of some child baseball prodigy, though. Instead, Brown followed a more traditional artist's path, gaining renown for his portrait of Queen Elizabeth made out of teabags and teaching others his craft. It was only after moving to Korea and seeing the passion and devotion his new neighbors had for the sport that Brown finally witnessed a game.

"That was the first time I saw baseball," Brown said. "I started to learn about it and realized what a window into a culture it was. I was really excited by everything I could see in a stadium."

He grabbed his paint and brushes and set up outside Sajik Baseball Stadium, home of the Lotte Giants, in Busan. He did not realize it at the time, but this seemingly innocuous decision would forever alter Brown's life. He was captivated not just by the action on the field, but by the energy that was housed in the stadiums themselves: The cheering fans; the energetic spurts of the players on the field.

"It was the love of travel, the love of different cultures, the love of different food, different music, different musical instruments, different songs, different ways of celebrating," Brown said, barely containing his boyish enthusiasm. "Just watching other people or different people doing the things that they do."

You can see that shine through in Andy's work. He calls his art "stadium paintings," but don't think of it as highly technical drafts from an architect, nor is he focused on capturing everything exactly as it appears. Rather, he draws inspiration from the impressionists like Vincent Van Gogh. If you want to know what a baseball game feels like -- from the action on the field to the frenzied passion of the crowd, you'll sense that from Andy's work.

"I'm not a mathematician, I cannot draw a straight line," Brown said with a laugh. "I like the wiggly stuff in between, I love the energy of it. I feel like that's a big part of my work."

Great Britain vs. Germany at the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers at Armin-Wolf Arena in Regensburg, Germany 2022. Art by Andy Brown.

He credits his unique style to the fact that he was an outsider. It was through painting the stadiums and concourses that he came to not only understand the game, but love it.

"Part of the beauty of art is to take the things that you see every day and elevate it and make you see it in a new light," Brown said. "It was my way into baseball. My way of learning about baseball was through painting it and understanding the culture."

LIDOM Finals Game 5 2023 at the Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic by Andy Brown.

It didn't take long for people to flock to his art. Soon, players from KBO teams were asking Andy for his originals. The CPBL asked him to travel to Taiwan and paint there. So, Brown took a chance: Now a baseball fanatic, in 2019 -- as the Reds were celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Cincinnati Red Stockings -- he traveled to America to see and paint every big league stadium.

As his collection of work grew, so too did the jobs. Once it was safe to travel after the Covid-19 pandemic, he worked his way through the baseball-crazed Dominican Republic, tasked to make 103 paintings that would later be collected in his book, "El Arte de Beisbol."

"No big deal, you know, it's 103 paintings," Brown said. "So, I get there to the apartment I was gonna be living in, and it has all these boards and all these canvases and all this paint and I was like, 'Oh my god. What have I said yes to?'"

Four months later, though, and Brown's apartment was no longer had canvases left to be filled.

"I remember just being there one day laying on the sofa. I looked over my shoulder and there's always like 150-160 sketches, drawings, paintings, whatever, all around me. And I was like, 'Wow, where the hell did these come from?"

Andy Brown surrounded by his "El Arte de Beisbol" paintings.

Brown is currently with Great Britain as they look to win the country's first ever gold in the European Baseball Championship. He was there to capture the action as Britain defeated European giants Italy for the first time -- even swapping portraits with Mariners No. 1 prospect Harry Ford after the game.

The story of Great Britain's rise in Europe cannot be separated from the work he's left on a canvas.

Brown has now seen the baseball world from almost every angle and has shared it through his canvases. You might think he would be getting bored of baseball now, that he had done everything he set out to do. 

That couldn't be further from the truth. Even when Brown sits down to watch a game without a paintbrush in hand, he's still watching it from the viewpoint of an artist. 

"Even when I'm not painting, I'm still looking at things and thinking, 'Oh, there was an interesting shaft of light over there,' or 'Wow, look at that curve,'" Brown said. I always say I see the whole world in this way, where I'm connecting the rain falling outside and I'm thinking that it looks like a Japanese print. And then I'm looking at the red brick work and thinking that that reminds me of Pennsylvania. My brain is just wired that way. If I'm watching a game, I see it  through a canvas."