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For release: 26 March, 2020
The commission for a statue of Ernest Burke, US Marine and Negro Leagues baseball player from Havre de Grace, is close to fruition. The process for erecting a statue of Ernest Burke in Havre de Grace began almost a decade ago. After much work by what was then the Ernest Burke Recognition Committee, led by Mrs. Camay Murphy under the auspices of the Community Projects of Havre de Grace, Inc., and with the support of the Havre de Grace Public Art Committee, Mayor Bill Martin and the City Council of Havre de Grace, in May 2016, “passed Resolution 2016-09 to support (and) recognize the achievements of Ernest Burke and to lend their support and approval for the exploration and development of a public art memorial dedicated to the memory of Ernest Burke.” (From ernestburkebaseball.org)
That 2016 resolution and subsequent fund raising activities led to the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) from the City of Havre de Grace in spring 2019 for a statue of Ernest Burke to be placed in Tydings Memorial Park in Havre de Grace.
"Ernest Burke was born in Havre de Grace, Maryland on June 26, 1924. Both his mother and father died when Ernest was very young and, from the age of 9, he was raised by a French Canadian family in Iberville, Canada. The first sport Ernest learned was skiing.
He served in the United States Marines and fought in the Pacific theater in WWII. After receiving an honorable discharge, he played in what was known as the ‘Negro Leagues’ with the Baltimore Elite Giants from 1946 to 1949. In the off-seasons, Ernest played ball in South America.
In 1949, he joined the Colonial League and played for the Poughkeepsie Chiefs and the Kingston Colonials teams as a pitcher, outfielder and third baseman where he batted .253. Ernest then spent two years with Saint-Jean Braves in the Canadian Provincial League, where he hit .308 and .258, had a pitching record of 15-3 and 8-8, and a 4.33 ERA." (From the City of Havre de Grace Request for Proposals)
Detroit, Michigan-based sculptor Austen Brantley was selected from the artists who submitted proposals. Examples of his work can be seen on the internet at Austen Brantley Sculpture. Mr. Brantley has been working with the Ernest Burke Statue Committee to design the sculpture since he was selected for the project in fall 2019.
The maquette of the statue has been approved by the Committee. The next phase of development is for Mr. Brantley to create the full-scale clay model, which will then be cast in bronze. The goal is to have the statue installed in Tydings Memorial Park in Havre de Grace in time for the World Series in October of this year.
Harford Community College Art + Design Professor Jim McFarland has been working with the Ernest Burke Statue Committee since early 2019. He assisted with the guidelines for the Request for Proposals, served on the artist selection committee, and has been working with the Committee as one of the primary contacts with Mr. Brantley through the process of the design and approval of the sculpture.
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