Vintage Baseball Autographs

Big League Players--1920s thru 1960s

The Golden Age of Sports Cartooning

The cartoon reaches out and touches every part of our daily lives through magazines, newspapers, advertising, television, and movies.  It is a proud art form with a proud heritage.  It’s history forms an important part of our culture.

Sports cartooning is one of the most entertaining mediums within the spectrum of the graphic art world. The sports cartoon is of relatively modern vintage.  The first American sports cartoons appeared in newspapers in San Francisco during the years immediately after 1900.  Some of the early cartoonists included Tad Dorgan, Rube Goldberg, Hype Igoe, and Robert Ripley (of Ripley’s Believe It or Not fame).  In the 1920s photography displaced the news role of sports cartooning.  It became more of a sports page feature.  Cartoonists drew more upon their imagination and knowledge of personalities rather attending sporting events as visual reporters.  In the late 19th and early 20th centuries no American newspaper of any size was without its regular sports cartoonist.

In sports cartooning, sound knowledge of the human figure in action is absolutely essential.  Action is the byword.  Portraits must be lifelike and convincing.  The good sports cartoonist blends elements of lettering, grouping, and placement of the featured drawing into an eye-catching composition.

Bill Ballard  (1923-1997)

He was one of North Carolina’s best known illustrators of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, was at one time a staff member at North Carolina State. A long-time illustrator for the Raleigh News and Observer, he was well-known throughout the state for his art and cartoons in the N&O’s sports section, including the “In Conference” cartoons published during college football seasons, the Dixie Classic Basketball Tournament and the ACC Basketball Tournament.

Jack Berger (1895-1962)

He was a sports cartoonist with the Pittsburgh Press since 1924.

Jim Berryman (1902-1976) 

He attended George Washington University and the Corcoran School of Art.  He worked as a reporter for the New Mexico State Tribune, until his return, in 1923, to Washington, D.C. because of his mother's illness.  Jim’s talent for cartooning was bred in the family genes.  His father, Clifford Kennedy Berryman, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist for a couple of D.C. newspapers.  Jim worked at the Washington Star, as an editorial artist and illustrator, until 1933, when he became a sports cartoonist.  He also drew for the Sporting News between 1934 and 1941.  When his father suffered a stroke in 1935, Jim intermittently drew political cartoons for the Star and then full-time after 1940.  Berryman won a Pulitzer Prize in 1949 for his political cartoons.  He was also a magazine illustrator.  He retired in the late 1960s.

Phil Berube (1913-1989)

He was on the staff of the New York Journal from 1930 to 1934 and the Bell Syndicate from 1935 to 1940.  He created the comic strips “Oh Diana” (1949- 1953) followed by “Homer Hooper” (1953-1956).  He did gag fillers in comic books from 1945 to 1950.


Steve Bishop (1907-1967)

He was a sports cartoonist for McNitts blue books of football, baseball, and basketball in the 1940s thru 1960s.  He lived in Cleveland, Ohio.  His brother, Andy Bishop, was an illustrator for the N.E.A.


Phil Bissell  (1926-    )

His first sports cartoon was published when he was fourteen.  After going to Boston School of Practical Arts, he did a stint in the army.  He then became an office boy for the Christian Science Monitor, soon graduating to be their sports cartoonist.  He was sports cartoonist for the Boston Herald and Boston Globe (1953-65) He designed the official logo of the Boston Patriots.  His cartoon art is on display in the halls of fame for baseball, football, basketball, and hockey.


Hardin "Jack" Burnley (1911-2006)

He began working for the King Features Syndicate in 1929 drawing sports cartoons.  He began working for DC Comics in 1940, being the ghost artist for Superman and Batman cartoons and comic books.  He returned to sports cartooning in 1947.  He worked for the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph and the San Francisco News until retiring in 1976.


Peter Cantu




Bob Coyne (1898-1976)

Before retiring in 1975 after a 47-year career, Coyne drew over 15,000 sports cartoons for several Boston newspapers.  The estimable Coyne began his career with the Boston Post.


Sam Davis  (ca. 1909-1949)

He was a sports cartoonist on the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) staff from about 1943 through 1945.  He preceded Al Vermeer with NEA.  After the war, he was a sports cartoonist with the Long Island Daily Press and Long Island Star Journal until his death.


Robert W. Edgren  (1874-1939)

Bob Edgren was a nationally syndicated American political and sports cartoonist, reporter, editor and Olympic athlete.  In the 1890s he studied at the Mark Hopkins Art Institute.  He attended the University of California at Berkeley where he was a member of the track team.  He competed in the discuss and shot put at the 1906 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.  He began working for the San Francisco Examiner in 1895.  In 1897 he worked for the New York Evening Journal as a political cartoonist.  In 1907 he was hired to be sports editor of the New York Evening World. His sports cartoons were widely syndicated.  He was seriously injured in an auto accident in the early 1930s and his health declined until his death at his home in California.  

Lenny Hollreiser  (1923-    )

He had his first syndicated sports cartoon in 1950 ("Sports Snickers"), but one of his longest published panel cartoons was a Sunday strip that ran in the subscribing papers' sports section. It was distributed by the Chicago Tribune syndicate and was entitled "Looking Back in Sports." The strip is always listed as having enjoyed a run of a little over 13 years, from 1953 to about 1972.  Another strip that he did was a daily, entitled "This Day in Sports."  He considered Willard Mentor to be his inspiration and mentor. 


Hal Holmes


Ed Igoe (1907-1984)

Ed was the son of celebrated sports writer and cartoonist Hype Igoe. In the 1960s, Ed was a cartoonist for the New York Knickerbocker

Art Krenz (1905-1961)

He was a sports cartoonist on the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) staff from about 1933 through 1940. He was also a noted golf writer.


Werner Laufer (1902-1933)

He was a sports cartoonist with the NEA syndicate.  He got his art training at the Chicago Art Institute. In about 1924 he began drawing "Brushing Up Sports" for NEA. His "Foxy Pfann" cartoon appeared in newspapers in the late 1920s. 


Alan Maver  (1909-1984)

He was raised in New York City, the son of an internationally known Scottish woodcarver.  He began his career as an assistant to Feg Murray, whose work was appearing at the time in the New York Sun.  After six years of tutelage under Murray, he took over the sports cartoon production.  His work was printed in newspapers throughout the country through the United Feature, Central Press, and King Features syndicates.  The work of syndicated sports cartoonists like Maver helped hundreds of newspapers who couldn’t otherwise afford the services of a full-time sports cartoonist.  Maver’s syndicated sports cartoons appeared in newspapers throughout America from about 1941 through 1954.




Willard Mullin (1902–1978)

He was born near Columbus, Ohio, but grew up in Los Angeles, California.  He began his professional career as a cartoonist in 1923 working for the Los Angeles Herald first doing spot illustrations and later sports cartoons.  Working for a short time for newspapers in Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas, he then moved to New York in 1934 as sports cartoonist for the New York World-Telegram. It was Mullin who created the infamous 'Brooklyn Bum' character which became synonymous with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Mullin is generally regarded as the 'Dean of Sports Cartooning', an undeniable titan who inspired many a cartoonist. Mullin greatly defined the modern sports cartoon, now a dying art form, by combining representative portraiture, cartoonish doodlery, and editorial commentary — part news account, part personal observation, Willard Mullin's cartoons celebrated sport for its entertainment, cultural and artistic values. Willard Mullin — named "Sports Cartoonist of the Century" in 1971 by the National Cartoonists Society — was the Rembrandt of the sports pages during the glory years of sports cartooning.  In 1954, the Society awarded him it’s Reuben trophy as Cartoonist of the Year.  The year following, Charles Schulz of Peanuts fame garnered the award.


Feg Murray  (1894-1973)

Frederic "Feg" Murray was born in San Francisco. He was a sport cartoonist and columnist for the Los Angeles Times and did a feature called "True Stories about Stamps" in True Comics around 1943. He is best known for his cartoon strip, "Seein' Stars," in which he showcased several Hollywood celebrities of the time, in the style of Robert L. Ripley. "Seein' Stars" appeared in hundreds of newspapers between 1941 and 1953. In addition, he was a radio host, among others on "The Baker's Broadcast."

Murray Olderman (1922-    )

He is one of the most versatile stylists.  He can do busts or face portraits that look like they’ve been copied from bronze statuary or he can cover a large panel with many small sprawling figures, each drawn differently and each in fine relationship to the others.  He is also a sports columnist.  He received bachelors degrees from University of Missouri, Stanford, and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern.  His columns and cartoons were distributed by the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), a Scripps-Howard syndicate since 1952.  For the greater part of 35 years, his work appeared in 750 daily newspapers.  He became sports editor at NEA in 1964, executive editor in 1968, contributing editor in 1971, and he loosely retired in 1987.  He is also the author of eleven books and illustrator of nine others.  He is the founder of the Jim Thorpe Trophy — for the National Football League’’s Most Valuable Player, and the founder of the Maurice Podoloff Trophy — for the National Basketball Association’s MVP.  His football murals hang at the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.  In 1974 and 1979, Olderman was named Sports Cartoonist of the Year by the National Cartoonists Society.  He received the Pro Football Writers Association’s Dick McGann Award in 1979 as outstanding professional football writer.  In 1991, the Football Writers Association of America (of which he has served as president) honored him with their McGrane Award.  He lives in Palm Springs.


Tom Paprocki (1901-1973)

He signed his work ‘Pap’ — and was one of the best sports cartoonists.  His work was characterized by pace, variety, and good drawing.  Pap moved to New York City during World War I.  He attended art classes at night while working for an advertising agency during the day.  Pap joined the staff of Associated Press in 1930 as their regular sports cartoonist.  He soon became so popular that AP asked him to write a syndicated sports column in addition to his daily cartoons.  Both endeavors enjoyed great success.  He retired in 1965.  Along with Mullin, Pap represented the best of the nationally syndicated sports cartoonists.  His cartoons were full of verve and dash.  His figures moved with ease and grace.


Bill Pevear (1920-2004)

 A World War II Coast Guard veteran, Pevear was a native of Charlestown, Massachusetts. He drew sports cartoons for Boston Garden.

John Pierotti (1911-1987)

He is an Italian-American editorial and sports cartoonist, comic strip creator, and illustrator.  Pierotti was one of the most ambitious cartoonists of his era.  He rarely used pen and ink and worked almost exclusively with brush and grease pen, achieving wonderfully weird effects especially in the area of human grotesquery.  His style was one of exaggerated simplicity in a vertical format.  He studied at Art Students League, Cooper Union, and Mechanics Art Institute.  Pierotti worked for several organizations during his career, most extensively for King Features Syndicate and the New York Post.  He began his career as a sports cartoonist for the Post in 1933 after receiving staff artist training on the New York World Telegram and Sun.  In the 1940s he drew sports and political cartoons for a couple of radical newspapers in New York City.  In 1950 he became a political and sports cartoonist for the New York Post, staying there until his retirement in 1977.  He drew a sports panel for United Features called “Pier-Oddities.”  His comic strips included “Nutcracker U.” (1950) and “Jes’ Smith” (1972).  He received many awards including the National Cartoonists Society Best Editorial Cartoonist Award in 1955.  He was highly regarded by his colleagues and was elected president of the National Cartoonists Society for two successive terms.


Jack Sords

In a Cleveland sandlot ballgame, he struck famed Jim Thorpe out three times in a single game in 1926. Sords passed up a chance to go to the major leagues to concentrate on his art. He worked for many years with the King Features syndicate and his cartoons were distributed throughout America through the Central Press Association.  His career spanned the years from about 1927 through 1948.


Everett Clark "Ev" Thorpe (1904-1983)

The faculty of Utah State Agricultural College produced a large group of effective art teachers through the 1920s, '30s, '40s and beyond, who were students of either Calvin Fletcher or Harry Reynolds or both. Expressionist painter Thorpe was a singularly effective product of their work and a future colleague as well. Originally from tiny Providence, Utah, Thorpe began his figurative art as sports artist for both Desert NewsThe Salt Lake Tribune. Studying not only at Utah State and eventually the University of Utah, Thorpe was also a student at Los Angeles Country Art Institute, Syracuse University, and the Hans Hofmann School of Art at Provincetown, Massachusetts. His work ranged from illustration through portraiture; to multiple figurative mural projects, often in style similar to that of Thomas Hart Benton; and finally to an artistic maturity centered upon a nonobjective "Hofmannesque" set of goals. Beginning at U.S.U. in 1934 as a student instructor, this artist's career spanned over forty years there.


Al Vermeer (1911-1980)

He was born in Oakland, California, to Dutch immigrants, he worked for the San Francisco News and was on the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) staff in 1945.  He created the comic strip “Priscilla’s Pop” (1947-1976).  The strip reflected situations from his own home and children.  His stint as a sports cartoonist with NEA only lasted from 1945 to 1947.  NEA was without a sports cartoonist from 1947 until 1952 when Murray Olderman was hired.




Jack Winter