Hershiser purchases 'Grace' painting featuring Jackie, other icons

April 15th, 2024
Credit: Dave Hobrecht via Facebook

A famed piece of art depicting has a new and familiar owner for Jackie Robinson Day, but the painting is staying put in the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City.

Dodgers great Orel Hershiser, the 1988 NL Cy Young winner and a current broadcaster for the team, has purchased 10 pieces of art depicting the Dodgers from artist Dave Hobrecht, including the classic work "Grace," which shows Robinson and fellow Dodgers greats and praying around a dinner table with civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.

The painting has been on display at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum since 2020.

"Dave informed me of the change of ownership of 'Grace,'" museum president Bob Kendrick said in a news release. "I was so happy to hear it was Dodger legend Orel Hershiser. After hearing Orel's passion for us and 'Grace,' we agreed it was in the perfect place! 'Grace' is a powerful and important piece that helps convey the Negro Leagues' importance in helping advance civil rights in this country."

Hershiser had no intention of removing the piece.

"This piece of art belongs right where it is," Hershiser said in the release. "I'm honored to be its owner. It marks a very important historical time, and it is important to keep this piece where people can learn about this moment."

While the painting honors Robinson and his role in the civil rights movement, the work's condition offers an interesting parallel. The painting was damaged during shipping to the museum in 2020, with its wood canvas sustaining a crack that caused the bottom portion to become detached from the rest.

Kendrick and Hobrecht reframed the painting, but decided to keep the canvas as it was.

"Not having a breakable spirit — that's Jackie Robinson," Kendrick said. "The painting is broken, but you won't break our spirit. So we decided to unveil it with the damage and that it would be a metaphor that beautifully captures what Jackie was all about."

Once might expect an artist to resist such a thing, but Hobrecht agreed it was a fitting tribute.

"I remember when I heard the painting was broken in half ... I was so upset, frustrated ... actually mad!" Hobrecht said. "I remember flying to Kansas City to try and touch up 'Grace' before the ceremony for Jackie Robinson Day the following afternoon. Once I arrived … that anger left. It is impossible to not be inspired at The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. This place is magical."