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America At The Seams: America At The Seams: 50 Stories in 50 States of How Baseball United Our Country

About this project

My name is Nathan Rueckert and I am an Artist in Sioux Falls, SD. I have a passion for baseball and giving the game new life through the form of artworks created from the tattered seams and leather of old baseballs. After 17 years of business, thousands of hand-crafted baseball artworks, and over 8,000 used baseballs being given new life, I am embarking on a journey unlike anything ever attempted before.

Examples of old, tattered baseballs being given new life through the form of artwork and accessories.

Examples of old, tattered baseballs being given new life through the form of artwork and accessories.

Let me explain. One thing I’ve come to appreciate is that every old, tattered baseball has a story. Scuffs from breaking balls in the dirt; ripped seams from countless hours in the cages; and grass stains from years of sacrifice and dedication. And one of the reasons baseball fans are drawn to my artwork is that they see themselves in those stories. They see their own hard work, sacrifice, and fond memories they wish they could relive just one more time. 

The purpose of this Kickstarter is to raise funds to create a 5 foot wide map of the United States made completely from the tattered and worn red seams and different shades of white leather from actual used baseballs. Hard to visualize, right? The photo below is the art finished. Each state is made from baseballs obtained from that state, but even more, each state’s baseballs was intentionally obtained from someone with a powerful story about how baseball has helped overcome adversity, mend a broken situation, or persevere through a very difficult time.

Day #1 with #AmericaAtTheSeams at Cooperstown. — with Nate Rueckert and Ethan Bryan..

Day #1 with #AmericaAtTheSeams at Cooperstown. — with Nate Rueckert and Ethan Bryan..

Let me give you some example story lines in the works:

  • Alaska – in 2014, a Little League coach in a small Alaskan town never showed up on game day and wasn’t returning phone calls. His son played on the team and the love of baseball was one of the bonds they shared. It wasn’t until they drove home to find an Alaskan State Trooper that they realized their lives would be forever changed: their husband/son/coach died from a massive heart attack at work earlier that day. The team members and families rallied around the wife and son during their time of grief and spoke at the funeral. While alive, this coach poured himself into these kids and loved teaching them the fundamentals of the game. For this project, the state of Alaska will be made from baseballs obtained from the coach’s personal collection and dedicated in his memory. 
     
  • Colorado – Columbine High School in Littleton was the site of a horrific school shooting in April 1999. The principal at the time, Frank DeAngelis, was also the baseball coach when the shooting occured in the middle of their baseball season. Frank spoke to me about how baseball played a role in helping him, the school, and Littleton community heal during the aftermath of the tragedy. The state of Colorado will be made from the tattered seams used by the Columbine High School baseball team last year. 
     
  • Michigan – During the fall of 2015, a freshman baseball player named Evan at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan was tragically killed in a car accident on his way to a game. He happened to be an organ donor and his heart was a perfect match for a fellow team member’s family friend. In total, Evan saved five lives through organ donations. The team has rallied in Evan’s remembrance creating the hashtag #EvanStrong to raise awareness about being an organ donor. The state of Michigan will be made from baseballs used by Evan and his teammates this past year and I hope to further raise awareness of the importance of being an organ donor to honor Evan in his memory. 
     
  • Iowa – For the last 15 years, Coach Willy in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa has coached youth baseball and has also been the Little League’s president for over 12 years. What’s remarkable about this is that a majority of these years have been coached from a wheelchair. In 2008, Willy was paralyzed from the waist down when he fell from a treestand in a hunting accident. Although many aspects of his life would never be the same, it was the love of baseball and coaching that pushed him to recover quickly and in time to coach the next season. He still does infield warm ups, is the 3rd base coach and doesn’t let his impairment stop him from achieving his dreams. Willy’s story is an inspiration to all persons struggling with a physical impairment. The state of Iowa will be made from balls used by Willy and his team.

This project will feature 50 real life stories similar to these (one in each state) and I will tell their stories artistically through this once-in-a-lifetime piece of artwork. It will be mounted on reclaimed wood boards and I am hopeful to make this a travelling exhibit in popular baseball destinations across the country. After completion of the "America At The Seams" original artwork by end of 2016, I will produce fine art prints of the Baseball USA Map, prints of each individual state, as well as a beautiful hard cover coffee table book that vividly displays each state artwork along with the state's accompanying story.  

Follow along on Social Media with #AmericaAtTheSeams

Follow along on Social Media with #AmericaAtTheSeams

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