It's time to talk about that elephant in the room; or more accurately, those 50 elephants around The Town.
Fifty human-size statues of Stomper, the pachyderm mascot for the Oakland A's, have been placed at locations around the city to commemorate the team's fiftieth year in the city.
Each statue is uniquely decorated by a different Bay Area artist, often with references to the hosting business or organization.
A Stomper outside the Kingfish Pub & Cafe at 5227 Telegraph Ave. is dressed in an A’s jersey that says ‘Kingfish’ on the back, while one outside the Shoe Palace at 4900 Telegraph is wearing a pair of Nike sneakers.
All told, there are six statues in Temescal, including one at Kasper’s Plaza, painted by 1 AM Oakland.
Shifra de Benedictis-Kessner, executive director of the Temescal Telegraph Business Improvement District, told Hoodline that public art encourages visitors and residents to view the plaza as a gathering place, in line with the eventual plans to convert it to a pedestrian plaza.
“We were really supportive of the project,” she said. “We love public art here in Temescal.”
De Benedicits-Kessner added that the TTBID is considering creating a scavenger hunt with the different statues that culminates in a prize. "We're still developing that," she said. "Stay tuned."
Discovery Bay-based artist Nicki Bernacchi created a concept for the Stomper at the Temescal branch of the Oakland Public Library.
“I did the very first uniform,” said Bernacchi. “I picked a design with Tony La Russa and Reggie Jackson and was going to put their portraits on the front."
But her design was a little too similar to other statues which also featured players. Instead, the A’s asked if she would mind painting someone else’s submission.
Titled "Bat Boy," the statue depicts Stomper dressed as DC Comics' caped crusader, complete with mask and cape.
“I cannot show you the drawing, but believe me, they’re not artists,” she told Hoodline. In return for accepting the commission, she received a $200 gift card to Flax Art for supplies and a $1,000 fee.
“Just being a part of it I thought was really cool,” said Bernacchi. “It was a lot of fun.”
“We’re happy to have it,” said Steve Lavoie, the library's manager. “It was nice because it arrived just in time for Free Comic Book Day,” he said, referencing the yearly May 1 giveaway.
“I think it’s a really positive way that the team can participate in the community and send money to artists,” he said. “Fifty years of baseball in Oakland is a big deal.”
The Oakland Public Library is currently hosting three Stomper statues. The most popular one is located at Brookfield branch and is collaged with decades worth of A’s baseball cards. “It’s become something of an attraction,” said Lavoie.
The fifty different Stompers are on display throughout the 2018 baseball season. The statues will be auctioned off at the end of the season with all proceeds benefiting the Oakland A's Community Fund, which distributes funds to initiatives for education, youth sports, and economic opportunity in Oakland.
Readers can find all fifty Stompers here and by tracking social media via the hashtag #stomperinthetown .