By RODRIQUE NGOWI, Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) _ A Norman Rockwell painting of Boston Red Sox players is being shown at Fenway Park on Monday before it is taken to New York City to be auctioned.
The painting, “The Rookie (Red Sox Locker Room),” appeared on the cover of the March 2, 1957, issue of the Saturday Evening Post. Christie’s is offering it May 22 with a pre-sale estimate of $20 million to $30 million, which the auction house says represents that highest auction estimate ever for Rockwell.
The painting shows pitcher Frank Sullivan, right fielder Jackie Jensen, catcher Sammy White, second baseman Billy Goodman and Hall of Famer Ted Williams. The seasoned, confident players are seen facing an awkward newcomer arriving in the locker room for spring training _ dressed in a crumpled suit and a battered bowler hat while also clutching a suitcase, baseball bat and gloves.
On Monday, Sullivan and Rockwell’s model for the rookie, Sherman Safford, will be with the painting at Fenway.
Safford was a high school athlete from the western Massachusetts town of Pittsfield when he was asked to model for Rockwell. Williams, nearing the end of his career, was the only player who did not pose for the painting in Rockwell’s hometown of Stockbridge, and the artist had to rely on baseball cards and photographs for the details of his face.
The anonymous owner acquired it in 1986, and it has remained in the same private collection since then.
The painting was exhibited for six days at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston until Sunday. It was previously on show there in 2005 and 2008, following World Series victories by the Red Sox.
In December, Rockwell’s 1951 “Saying Grace” sold at Sotheby’s for $46 million. It set an action record for the artist.
Associated Press Writer Rodrique Ngowi can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/ngowi
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