Ol’ Lefthander Joe Nuxhall to be featured on newest Hamilton mural

Homegrown baseball hero Joe Nuxhall will be the subject of a mural to be painted on the side of a Hamilton sporting goods store this summer.

Nuxhall, known as the “Ol’ Lefthander,” the beloved Cincinnati Reds pitcher and later radio announcer for the team, became the youngest player in modern Major League Baseball history at age 15 in 1944.

He died in 2007 at age 79, but remains a beloved figure not only in his hometown of Hamilton, but also across the country, where his voice poured through the radio during Reds broadcasts for many years.

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The first people who saw the mural, unveiled during Wednesday’s Hamilton City Council meeting, considered it a home run.

After local artist Jennifer Acus-Smith, a StreetSpark mural organizer, showed images of the the mural, the crowd at Hamilton City Council spontaneously applauded — not a common occurrence during meetings.

Acus-Smith noted the mural’s location, the longtime Clark’s Sporting Goods at 15 S. B St., is visible from the High-Main Bridge.

The dynamic mural, which has a 3-D effect of young Nuxhall extending his left arm toward the viewer with an autographed baseball in his hand, alongside an image of an older Nuxhall, was designed by Paul Loehle, a local artist and Hamilton High School art teacher.

“I’m sure he was in that sporting goods store a few times,” Mayor Pat Moeller said.

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Credit: PROVIDED

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At the McDonald’s across the street from Hamilton’s city building, the Nuxhall mural won approving nods from older Hamilton men, including Charles W. Farthing, 85, a retired automaker who attended the former Wilson Junior High School with Nuxhall.

“He was a better ballplayer than I was — you couldn’t hit his ball,” said Farthing, who was a grade behind Nuxhall and said he faced off against him in gym class.

“It looks alright,” said Glen Bryant, 77, also of Hamilton, who said Nuxhall was “a pretty good ballplayer, and a good announcer. And he spent his life in the ballgame, which you give him credit for. Being a pitcher so young (in 1944). I was just a baby then.”

“That’s great — I like that,” said Charles Tolbert, 64, another Hamiltonian who was sitting nearby. “I like the way it’s in 3D or something like that, the way he’s holding the ball out there like that, Ol’ Lefty.”

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Two other murals to be painted this summer in the city will be images that prominently feature birds.

A second mural will adorn a parking garage above a new downtown pocket park and will depict a person releasing a dove.

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Credit: PROVIDED

Called “Taking flight,” the mural was created by Taylor Welch, an artist and architecture/interiors professional at Community Design Alliance. It will loom above the new Rotary Park at Second and High Street that’s almost ready to open. The mural will adorn a large wall on the city’s McDulin parking garage.

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Credit: PROVIDED

The “Taking Flight” mural “represents our industrial foundation, paper, from which we are taking our next steps for the future of Hamilton,” Acus-Smith said, in reference to the proposed mega-indoor-sports complex, Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill, which will occupy the former Champion Paper property.

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A third mural will show various bird images, including origami birds, echoing the city’s proud paper-making past.

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The mural design for 212 Main St. was conjured by Canadian Annie Hamel, and features references to light bulbs and paper birds, in a nod to past city businesses and industries. She recently finished a mural project in France.

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Credit: PROVIDED

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The murals were chosen through a blind selection process, with judges not knowing names of those submitting artworks.

“We got 117 designs submitted by 63 artists from three different countries,” Acus-Smith said. “So we were very pleased by this response. We essentially doubled the number of designs that came in last year.”

Painting of murals will start in late May, with some of the work continuing through July. Thirteen artists will do the painting. This year, college students from Miami University, the University of Cincinnati, the Art Academy of Cincinnati and the Columbus College of Art & Design submitted entries.

Each mural will have its own dedication.

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