Enough people have written in to me about this, including Jim Sherman himself, that I think it’s worth doing an addendum, even though I’ve already amended the original piece (seen here).
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Comic book artist Jim Sherman designed the logo for Major League Baseball.
For years, former Legion of Superheroes artist Jim Sherman thought that he had designed the logo for Major League Baseball. He had it on his resume, he gave interviews about it, it was just a given in his life.
Heck, even recently, when stories of other people designing it (like this one about graphic designer Jerry Dior in the Wall Street Journal) were floating around, Sherman was still sure he had done it.
It was not until a recent article by Paul Lukas at ESPN.com that the truth came out, after an initial interview with Lukas where Sherman reiterated that he had designed the logo, the following exchange happened:
Uni Watch: Just out of curiosity, how old are you?
James Sherman: Sixty.
UW: Wow, so you were just 20 years old when you designed the logo.
JS: No, I had to be at least 30.
UW: But the logo was designed in 1968. It had to be, because it debuted in the 1969 season. It was worn on every major league uniform that year.
JS: Really? Then I didn’t do it. I couldn’t have. Are you sure about this?
To show Sherman what I meant, I e-mailed him a few images from 1969, including the cover of the Mets’ yearbook (note the MLB logo at lower-right) and photos showing players wearing the logo on their sleeves or elsewhere. He called me back a few minutes later.
“That’s not my logo, and I was totally unaware that it existed,” he said. “The logo I created was very similar, but I designed it in the early 1980s. All I can say is that I was so sports-unaware that I didn’t know about the earlier logo. I feel like a total idiot now that I didn’t know about it. I’m flabbergasted.”
Once he learned that he had been taking credit for a logo he did not design, Sherman quickly began making the rounds explaining himself, including calling up Jerry Dior a few days ago to clear the air (there were no hard feelings involved) and contacting anyone else who had covered the story, including me.
Sherman felt it was important to get it out there, because he did not want people to think of him as taking credit for work he did not do.
According to Sherman, he was contacted to do a logo for Major League Baseball, and he handed in three submissions – all silhouettes. Major League Baseball then sent him back pencil sketches of Dior’s design, which Sherman thought was an acceptance of one of his silhouetted designs, just with client specifications (you know, move the arm in, raise the helmet, etc.)
Sherman was not a sports fan, and at the time, the logo was not used too often – only upon the boom of licensing in the mid-to-late 80s has the logo become a really big deal, so the original was not familiar to Sherman, and since there not only was no publicity about who designed the logo, there specifically was NOTHING about who designed the logo – that’s how logo design goes – you get an assignment, you do it, you get paid and that’s it. Artists do not even know if their work is used by the company until they actually see it in circulation.
And when the licensing boom of the 80s did hit, Sherman saw his logo in circulation, and thought it was his design.
It was not, it was Jerry Dior’s design, which he did (as mentioned by Lukas above) back in 1968, for Major League Baseball’s 100th Anniversary in 1969.
However, do note that Sherman’s logo IS in circulation, it just is not as popular as Dior’s original.
Here is Dior’s original…
And here is Sherman’s redesign (what he thought for over two decades to be THE design)…
So there ya go!
Thanks to Jim Sherman and Paul Lukas for the information! And thanks to Roel Torres (of the Hardball Times, which is a nifty site!), Michael Grabois and John Chidley-Hill (John, expect an answer to your other legend question within the next few weeks) who sent me links to Lukas’ article!
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