Remembering the Origin of the MLB Logo

1280px-Major_League_Baseball.svgWith the passing of Jerry Dior on May 10, 2015, at the age of 82, we were reminded of the story behind the iconic Major League Baseball logo he designed in 1968.

Below is a transcript of a conversation on NPR with hosts Audie Cornish and Melissa Block, along with their guests, Alan Siegel and Paul Lukas. You can also listen to the audio at NPR.org, or read more and watch a great 2009 interview with Jerry Dior on MLB Network at cbssports.com.

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NPR, June 01, 2015

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We now remember Jerry Dior, who, in 1968, wasn’t trying to create an icon. In fact, the logo the graphic designer made for Major League Baseball was supposed to be around for just one year.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

But the white silhouette of a batter waiting for a pitch on a red and blue background has lasted for nearly 50 years. Dior’s company, Sandgren and Murtha, was hired by the league to come up with something to celebrate the 100th anniversary of professional baseball.

CORNISH: Dior was given the task of coming up with a logo. And in one afternoon, using magic markers, he came up with something that’s now on every single bit of official Major League Baseball merchandise. Alan Siegel was Dior’s supervisor at the time, and the Logo stood out immediately.

ALAN SIEGEL: This design was very dynamic, colorful, modern and distinctive. It struck me as being exceptional. We went right to the head of the baseball committee, showed it to them, and they approved it right away.

BLOCK: The next year, Alan Siegel copied this template for his own design of the logo of the NBA, and Siegel claims it’s been copied by other sports leagues dozens of times since then. Paul Lukas is the uniform and logo columnist for espn.com.

PAUL LUKAS: It has become synonymous – you know, the silhouette – the red, white and blue with the silhouette in the center has essentially become synonymous with sports design. If you’ve got a bunch of frat guys who are having a beer-pong tournament, one of them will sit down at the computer and, you know, make a little poster for their fraternity house, you know, with that same template.

CORNISH: Even though it can be seen at every Major League ballpark, Dior’s design was a work-for-hire job, so he never got royalties. He didn’t even get credit for four decades.

LUKAS: Designers do not get to sign their work, either literally or metaphorically. We so often hear designs attributed just to institutions, like Nike created this uniform or the NFL came out with this logo or a team came up with this logo, and we rarely hear the names of the human beings that were involved.

BLOCK: Through the help of stories told by The Wall Street Journal and ESPN, Dior was finally recognized by Major League Baseball in 2009. He said, in an interview on the MLB Network, that he was proud of how his work has endured.

[SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING]

JERRY DIOR: In the art field, the design field, everything changes. Within a couple of years, it’s gone, or they fool with it. And they tweak it, and they change it. And they – this hasn’t changed one bit, except for pointy nose. It was a square nose when I first did it. It’s pointy now.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Really?

DIOR: Which I hate.

[LAUGHTER]

CORNISH: Graphic designer Jerry Dior, the man who created the Major League Baseball logo, died last month of cancer. He was 82.

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Major League Baseball“. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

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