Rockwell Files: The 1948 Chicago Cubs in Boston

In 1948, the Chicago Cubs were having a bad season. Their long string of losses provided Norman Rockwell an opportunity to contrast a visiting team’s dejection with the raucous elation of home-team fans of the then-Boston Braves.

Several Cubs good-naturedly agreed to model for him. Rockwell captured them early on May 23 in Boston before the start of a doubleheader. From left to right, they are pitcher Bob Rush, manager Charley Grimm, and, behind the batboy, catcher Al Walker and alternate pitcher Johnny Schmitz.

Later, as the stands started to fill, Rockwell stood in the infield and pointed out people he wanted for models. These fans were invited to sit in a box over the dugout and pose. All were happy to be part of the painting. Rockwell would ask each one to mimic his expression of delight or scorn, but some fans just couldn’t project the right intensity. Others found it easy to portray raucous delight and loud derision, like the girl delightedly razzing the Cubs at left. She was the daughter of the Braves’ coach. The woman gripping her hands delightedly over the batboy’s right shoulder was the wife of the Braves’ pitcher. And to add one more screaming face to the frame, Rockwell put himself in the upper left. When he was finished photographing the faces he wanted to use in the illustration, the game began. And life imitated art, for that day the Chicago Cubs lost both games.

Chicago Cub player standing in the dugout awaiting his turn at bat while the audience jeers him.
The Dugout, September 4, 1948, is one of baseball’s most iconic paintings. (Norman Rockwell, © SEPS)

This article appears in the November/December 2018 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Abraham Lincoln: A Tribute

It’s a big year for our 16th president. Throughout the year, the Lincoln Bicentennial ( will celebrate his life, his work, and his words. Considered among the most revered Americans of all time, Lincoln continues to captivate our imagination and inspire the nation. Our 44th president counts Abraham Lincoln among his list of heroes, even placing his hand on the same burgundy-velvet-bound Bible that President Lincoln used at his first inauguration.

On the 200th anniversary of his birth, our nation continues to strive to advance Lincoln’s ideal to build a more perfect union. Certainly, that was the goal of the February 10, 1945 Post article Thoughts on Peace on Lincoln’s Birthday. The commemorative feature presented ideas on peace of two great Americans.

A Lincoln scholar who published a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Honest Abe, Carl Sandburg found his inspiration for the poem The Long Shadow of Lincoln presented in the Post feature from one of the president’s messages to Congress in 1862. Artist Norman Rockwell drew inspiration from the last paragraph of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address that reads: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

In the introduction to the article, Post editors wrote: “In the heart-lifting symbolism of Norman Rockwell’s great painting there is thought for all of us. For here we find not only the crippled soldier who must learn a new way of life, the builder who will help put a shattered world together, the teacher and her brood, and the sorrowing family of a fallen warrior, but also the hand of brotherhood extended to the downtrodden and, in the background, the less fortunate races of humankind who must not be forgotten if peace is to be anything more than an armistice. Here, in the faces and attitudes of these people, are determination and tolerance and the yearning for a better world.”