PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Two local organizations teamed to create a hat to honor the 100-year anniversary of the first pitch in the Negro leagues.
The hat was designed by Portland-based apparel company Baseballism and Friends of Baseball, an area non-profit. Manny Dempsey, a northeast Portland middle school student, contributed his art.
Dempsey is an 8th grade student at da Vinci Arts Middle School. He was been putting in the work this summer from his at-home art studio, sketching his way to the mainstream.
“For me, it’s kind of crazy, because I couldn’t imagine me doing so much big stuff,” Dempsey said.
The 13-year-old’s work was on display for the Portland Diamond Project’s Negro league celebration in February. Dempsey was also a featured game day poster article for his beloved Trail Blazers in 2018.
“I always used to say when I was younger, ‘I can’t wait until I grew up so I can do this,’ but it kind of gives me the, ‘yo, I am doing this right now, as a 13-year-old,’” Dempsey said.
The bubble Blazers are providing the latest inspirations for Dempsey, who leans into his craft on his Emagination Creation Designs website, ecddezigns.com.
“One thing for why I do it is just to see more Black characters and black figures and the thing that, when most Black children see my stuff, they can see the superhero or the character as them, and they can connect with the character or the piece, so that is just why I do it,” Dempsey said.
Dempsey’s latest release is of a limited number under the bill of the Negro League Centennial Celebration cap. Proceeds from the hat benefit the non-profit’s after-school work in getting kids in the game with their full count programs.
“I am always willing to learn new things and inspire people,” Dempsey said. “That’s what I love to hear when kids are like, ‘hey, I want to do this too.’”
Dempsey’s talent will take him to big places, but first on the list was to watch the Blazers challenge the Lakers in round one of the playoffs. The caps are available for purchase online here.
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