Football Sculpture Makes You Smile

"Hey Mary Lou!" makes you smile.

“Hey Mary Lou!” makes you smile.

Serendipity.  That’s the word that popped into my mind when I first saw the Hey Mary Lou! sculpture at this season’s “Walking Sculpture Tour” in my home town.  Commingled with 33 other sculptures is an energetic image of a pair of young football players.  It tells an amusing tale with a glance.  How perfect for my football blog!  Hey Mary Lou! makes you smile.

A microsecond before the runner's glory is taken away.

It’s going to be a hard hit!

The sculpture depicts a 7th or 8th grade football player that has broken into open field along the sidelines running for an apparent touchdown.  With a big, goofy smile on his face, he is waving to the cheerleaders as his spindly legs gallop toward the end zone.  Unbeknownst to him, one of the defenders is about to violently transport the runner back to reality with a savage hit.  I’m thinking fumble.

Lee Leuning and Sherri Treeby of Bad River Artworks in Aberdeen, SD created the bronze statue.  Their works are known for detail.  This is apparent when you look at Hey Mary Lou!.  The leather helmets are authentic right down to the stitching.  You can see the weave in the players’ web trouser belts, and the leather lacing on the shoes and helmet look genuine.  The sculpture reeks of realism right down to uniform patches and holey football spikes.  It is lifelike and era-accurate.

You can the weave in the web trouser belts.

You can see the weave in the web trouser belts.

The leather helmets are authentic right down to the leather stitching.

The leather helmets show stitching.

Realistic leather laces and holey football spikes add authenticity.

Realistic leather laces and holey football spikes add authenticity.

Hey Mary Lou! is a bronze sculpture created using the ‘Lost Wax’ process.  The permanence of bronze adds timelessness to the piece.  Leuning jokingly says that, “We only guarantee [our sculptures] for 2,000 years, but with modern silicone they’re good for 5,000…but we don’t want to go out on a limb.”

This sculpture takes me back.  When I was in junior high football, I was walking to the practice field in my football gear.  Out of the blue, my cousin decided to show off to his friends, and leveled me with a tackle from behind at full speed.  Later I returned the favor and blasted him in the same way with an unsuspecting brutal hit from behind.  It was at least temporarily satisfying, but no sooner had I tackled him, I found him on top of me, his hands on my facemask, and my head being bounced on the ground.  Where’s the justice in this world?  As harsh as the story sounds, the entire incident remained at a friendly level.  The jackass has been part of my fantasy football league since 1987.    🙂

Action is frozen a microsecond before the tackle.

Action is frozen a microsecond before the tackle.

There are many things about the sculpture I love.  It reminds me of a classic Norman Rockwell painting.  Also, you have to appreciate what it must have been like to play football in the ‘leatherhead’ era.  It was a much rougher sport in those days.  Perhaps my favorite part of the sculpture is the story that’s told.  The tackler is an inch away from the runner everywhere – the arms and hands, the head, and the shoulders.  The action is frozen at the very last instant before the runner’s glory is unceremoniously and roughly taken away.

I hope my photographs are able to capture, at least in a small way, the delight that Hey Mary Lou! evokes.  Of course, as so often is the case, seeing something in person may be the only way to truly appreciate it.  If you have that opportunity, take advantage of it.

As always, run to daylight.

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