"I knew I was dealing with a legend."
Artist Michael Begen's task at hand wasn't an easy one. He was to depict the essence that was three-time Manager of the Year Dusty Baker and illustrate it on an NBC Sports Bay Area Authentic Fan cheer card.
During Begen's research process, he discovered many things about Baker. And as well-known as Dusty was for his abilities on the field as a player, Begen knew this artwork had to spotlight Baker as a skipper.
"I knew he was a player, but it seemed that he excelled as a coach, so I wanted to a find a piece that incorporated him as a coach," Begen told NBC Sports Bay Area. "And also since my style is very much caricature, I wanted to do the character justice by making good illustrations but also being in respectful taste to Dusty Baker and making sure the drawing wasn't too exaggerated. So I had to take that into count because I definitely wanted to be respectful.
"I looked at a bunch of images and I did a bunch of sketches to find the best expression and that led to the final design for the cheer card."
Begen is no stranger to following the Orange and Black.
"I've always liked the Giants, they're my favorite National League team," he said. "As I got older, I started to develop an interest in them."
With the Kevin Pillar cheer card we previously featured, artist Amanda Mantchev concentrated on the background for the centerfielder to represent the city of San Francisco. This piece was different. Begen wanted to focus on bringing out Baker for who he is.
"I wanted to focus on simplicity -- I didn't want to focus too much on colors. When I do my caricatures and illustrations, I tend to leave just a color background, because I want the character to be the focus. And everything else is nice, but I need to find that focus.
"I tend to view the subject matter," he added. "I submitted numerous designs of what it could be like color gradients in the background and designs."
NBC Sports Bay Area agreed; a simple, a color background was the way to go.
Baker, who played for the Giants in 1984 then the A's his last two seasons in the majors, made his presence known on the field. Along with his ties to Bay Area sports, Baker is also recognized as one of four African American managers to manage in a World Series game. He spent a decade in the managerial seat with the Giants, winning the National League Pennant in 2002.
"I thought having his name in bold right behind him and then have his signature was a good way, because it's a background nonetheless, but it's still about the man."
But there was one very important element Begen had to include in the piece.
"I like that he has a toothpick," he said. "In almost every photo that I found, that's what makes him stand out above all the others, that's his character, that's his personality. And he wears sunglasses, so I had fun with that."
Like the cheer card? We do too. You can make a possible cameo on television with the one-of-a-kind Baker cheer cards if you want to drop by the NBC Sports Bay Area set for Giants Pregame and Postgame Live at Willie Mays Plaza on "Say Hey Tuesdays."
This and the rest of the cheer cards will be revealed throughout the season. And you'll be able to see them in their entirety during the "Battle of the Bay Art Show," an A's and Giants-themed art exhibit during the Bay Bridge Series from Aug. 13-14.