Sunday, July 5, 2015

Phillies mural finally gets the go-ahead

The six-story celebration of team greats should be finished by early fall.

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The building at 24th and Walnut Streets where the Phillies mural will be displayed, with reliever Tug McGraw leaping on the outside of the chimney. Note the railroad tracks belonging to CSX, which raised safety concerns during negotiations.
The building at 24th and Walnut Streets where the Phillies mural will be displayed, with reliever Tug McGraw leaping on the outside of the chimney. Note the railroad tracks belonging to CSX, which raised safety concerns during negotiations.
The building at 24th and Walnut Streets where the Phillies mural will be displayed, with reliever Tug McGraw leaping on the outside of the chimney. Note the railroad tracks belonging to CSX, which raised safety concerns during negotiations. Gallery: The Phillies mural project

The image of Tug McGraw jumping for joy could be even more lasting by late September.

A long-awaited Phillies mural, celebrating great figures in club history, is expected to be fully installed early this fall on a building rising above the Walnut Street Bridge, according to team official Michael Harris.

“The public will definitely be invited” to dedication ceremonies, said Cari Feiler Bender, spokeswoman for the Mural Arts Program, which has overseen the project.

In coming weeks, passersby will see little besides mesh-covered scaffolding, as, weather-permitting, the wall is cleaned, patched and sealed, and sealant is given time to cure.

Finally, 143 five-foot squares of cloth, painted with fans’ help in the fall of 2011 and the spring of 2012, will emerge from storage in the studio of David McShane, the artist who designed the mural.

The plan to complete the mural that summer ran into delays, partly because rail corporation CSX was concerned about having scaffolding near its tracks.

“Because the proposal involves the use of CSX property for the creation of the mural, CSX is reviewing the plans to ensure they do not compromise safety for the mural creators or the railroad or interfere with rail operations,” according to a statement CSX released late last summer.

The painted panels will then be coated with an acrylic gel glue and squeegeed to the wall, with McShane doing whatever touch-ups are needed to blend across the seams, Feiler Bender said.

McGraw’s leap of victory after the 1980 World Series will top the six-story artwork, which is bound to become a familiar landmark to drivers on the Schuylkill (I-76) between Center City and West Philadelphia, as well as to joggers on the Schuylkill River Trail, which passes the base of the building.

Also looming high and large will be pitcher Brad Lidge, who got the final out in the 2008 World Series, and legendary sluggers Mike Schmidt and Ryan Howard, crossing their bats behind their backs with their follow-throughs.

Besides Schmidt, Hall of Famers depicted will include pitchers Robin Roberts, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Jim Bunning and Steve Carlton; outfielders Ed Delahanty and Chuck Klein; outfielder/broadcaster Richie Ashburn; and broadcaster Harry Kallas.

The rest of the player roster: pitchers Mitch Williams, Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay, shortstops Larry Bowa and Jimmy Rollins, catchers Darren Daulton and Carlos Ruiz, first baseman Dick Allen, second basemen Tony Taylor and Chase Utley, and outfielder Greg Luzinski.

Ironically, Hamels, Rollins, Ruiz and Utley have all been mentioned in recent trade talks, and Halladay pitched his last season for the Phils last year.

World Series-winning managers Dallas Green and Charlie Manuel will be on the mural, too, along with the Phillie Phanatic, fans, and three stadiums: Shibe Park, later known as Connie Mack Stadium, Veterans Stadium, and Citizens Bank Park.

For more details, go to the Phillies mural page.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

Philly.com
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