Sports and art have always vied for the affections of SI Assistant Art Director Larry Gendron. Although he began painting in the third grade after he fell in love with a print of Salvador Dali's Persistence of Memory in Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia, Larry pitched his way through Little League, Babe Ruth and high school in Claremont, N.H. Art won out in his last two years at Stevens High, however, and he put baseball on hold. "It was too competitive, and I didn't have the time to paint and pitch," Gendron says.
When Gendron, 29, went on to Windham College (now defunct) in Putney, Vt., he made peace with his passions: He was a fine arts major, concentrating on painting and etching, and a starting pitcher for the Windham Lions. The summer after his freshman year, Gendron had his first show of surrealistic paintings, and the next spring he pitched a two-hit shutout.
Gendron's abiding interest in sports came naturally. His father, Louis, raced Porsche coupes, and his maternal grandfather, Benjamin Zerba, pitched semipro ball in New England. Gendron's mother, Wreatha, favored the Red Sox and shared a cigar in 1964 with then Manager Johnny Pesky (né Paveskovich) when he came to Claremont's St. Joseph's Church to be honored as Polish Athlete of the Year. Larry and his brother, Louie, 12, are Red Sox fans; sisters Lynn, Lorene and Lea never followed the game.
When Gendron moved to New York City in 1976, after a year of operating a web press in Saxtons River, Vt. and a year painting in Stony Creek, Conn., he started a stickball team called the Watts Street All-Stars. When he wasn't hurling a Spaldeen, he was learning the mechanics of layout and design while working at Rodgers Studio. After four years there, Larry came to SI in 1980 to work on The Year in Sports issue. He now contributes to the design of every issue. But the years of pitching have taken their toll on his shoulder, and the only baseball Gendron plays is Alexander's Baseball Game—in his office. It's played with marbles and a pinball-type bat on a metal field. Gendron just likes the way it looks and the idea of having a diamond nearby.
Larry's present "in" sport is golf, which he took up again this past spring. He had quit at the age of 14 after suffering a severe attack of appendicitis on the course while playing with his father. "I was afraid to start playing again," he says, "because I thought something terrible would happen again." His scores, he reports, have improved from "terrible" to the mid-80s.
Gendron still sketches and plans to resume painting, and he likes to revisit the baseball diamond in Claremont, particularly when Louie is pitching for the Little League Braves. Does he ever get the old urge to throw a high hard one himself? "No," Gendron says, "because my shoulder would probably fall off if I did."
ARTIST AT WORK: GENDRON'S STILL IN THERE PITCHING