But the University isn’t the only one keeping Tsuchiya busy. While he was working on the Hoff statue at the University’s physical plant building, Tsuchiya started collaborating with the Cincinnati Reds to make four statues for the Great American Ball Park, which opens next year. Since he was still working on projects for Xavier, he remained at the physical plant site to work on the statues for the Reds. The four former players being immortalized are Ted Kluszewski (1947-57), Ernie Lombardi (1932-41), Joe Nuxhall (1944-60, ’62, ’63-66) and Frank Robinson (1956-65). The players, who were chosen by the fans, spent their entire Reds career playing at Crosley Field.
And now they’ll play again, only this time on Crosley Terrace inside the new stadium. When fans step onto the terrace they’ll see Nuxhall pitching to Lombardi with Robinson at bat and Kluszewski on deck. “They’re right on the ground so fans can interact with them and go up and get their pictures taken with them,” says Tsuchiya “Also, it gives the impression that you’ve just stepped into the middle of a game.”
A Cincinnati native, Tsuchiya grew up a Reds fan and remembers drawing players like Tom Seaver and Johnny Bench when he was a kid. He says he looked to books and game footage to inspire his pieces. One fact he learned, and incorporated into his work, was how Kluszewski used to rip the sleeves off his uniform to show off his huge arms.
Another way Tsuchiya ensured accuracy was having Nuxhall look at the model he made of him. “It was a thrill and honor to meet him. I’ve been familiar with him as the Reds announcer since I was a kid,” says Tsuchiya. “He was pleased with what he saw. All he did was correct one of the arms a little bit.”
As for being a Bearcat in Musketeer territory, Tsuchiya says, “I’m a house guest here. I’m very thankful to Xavier for cooperating with me on this project. It’s a nice place to work and the Xavier community has been very supportive.”