Monday, July 9, 2012

Duff: Williams recreates Ebbets Field

From the  Windsor Star: Duff: Williams recreates Ebbets Field

A miniature replica of New York's famous Ebbets Field is being built at Imagine That Laser Art Products in Windsor on Wednesday, July 4, 2012. The model is being built for a client in California.

A miniature replica of New York's famous Ebbets Field is being built at Imagine That Laser Art Products in Windsor on Wednesday, July 4, 2012. The model is being built for a client in California.

Photograph by: Tyler Browbridge , The Windsor Star

Every one of the 31,000 green-coloured seat bottoms fold up.
Each of the 1,000 lights illuminate brightly.

It’s so realistic you half expect the toilets to flush.

Ebbets Field, home to the long-lost Brooklyn Dodgers, was levelled in 1960, but it’s been reborn in, of all places, a studio in Oldcastle.

A year ago, Mark Williams, owner and head designer of Imagine That Laser Art Products, was commissioned to build a 1-48th scale replica of the legendary ballpark, home to the Dodgers, or Dem Bums, as they were lovingly known in those days, from 1913-57.

About a month from completion, to see it up close is to look upon a masterpiece of miniature model construction.
“It is museum quality,” Williams said proudly. “You won’t find anything like it anywhere.”

A retired Ford worker, Williams began his company three years ago with a goal of constructing scale models for model railroad enthusiasts.
He’d soon learn exactly how enthusiastic some of these hobbyists can be.

“I never set out to build ballparks,” Williams said. “This just kind of happened because we were into the model train industry.”

Among the company’s many clients is rock star Rod Stewart. In their offices hang photos of Stewart’s model train layouts next to a signed photo of thanks from the man himself.

The fellow behind the ballpark order is California-based and prefers to remain anonymous. He’s spending six figures to have his mini Ebbets Field assembled. The ballpark measures 16 by 12 feet in diameter and stands over two feet high.

“We’d done models for the New York and Chicago elevated rail systems,” Williams explained. “This gentleman had seen our work and ordered us to build a bridge, the Harlem overpass.
“That started it.”

The bridge was damaged during shipping, so the purchaser flew Williams and one of his workers to California to fix it.

“We repaired it and he was so pleased, he said, ‘Can you build another of these bridges and a ballpark?’” Williams said.

Like mom’s apple pie, every aspect of the project was assembled from scratch. Each one of the railings was hand soldered. The screens attached to the railings are all hand tied.

The replica comes complete with hot dog stand, ticket windows, even some pigeon poop running down the side walls and a bird’s nest tucked in under the roof.

“It’s fully operational,” Williams said. “We designed all the parts, did all the researching ourselves through the internet and photographs.

“Everything is very accurate and because it’s made of wood, it lends itself to an older texture and it looks like it’s real.

As anyone who is, or who knows a train enthusiast can tell you, factual accuracy is an essential quality to any layout.

“Model railroading tends to lend itself to the realistic side of life,” Williams said. “You’re putting a story to the ballpark.

“Putting in the seats, you could even get a feel for what was a good seat and what was not. It’s amazing how many of the seats are directly behind a pole, which is true to life.

“It’s been quite an enjoyable build.”

The Dodgers got their name from their fans, who had to dodge trains running outside the stadium to get to the ballpark.

“It all ties back to this idea of trains,” Williams said, “The owner that’s having this built, he just loves baseball and he loves his trains, so he’s trying to incorporate both elements together.”

Still to be added before completion is the diamond, the roads around the stadium, and the ballplayers. Williams will utilize a 3D printer to make replicas of former Dodgers, so that likenesses of Duke Snider, Gil Hodges and Jackie Robinson may once again patrol Ebbets Field.

Once done, a team from Imagine That will drive the finished product to California and deliver the ballpark in person, ensuring its safety.

As excited as they are to near completion, Williams and his crew know they are just beginning their work.
“His layout is probably 15,000 square feet,” Williams explained. “When this is completed, we’ll be starting the Polo Grounds.

“When that’s completed, we’ll be doing Yankee Stadium.”

As challenging as Ebbets Field was to resurrect, the other parks will require even more laborious effort.
“This was 31,000 seats,” Williams explained. “The Polo Grounds was 58,000 seats.

“That’s going to be a challenge.”

Based on their recreation of Ebbets Field, Williams and his crew are up to the task.

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