CLEVELAND - Art connects more than pencil and paper; it's connecting 12-year-old Nicholas Mariani with baseball history.
The seventh grader from Cleveland spent months fine tuning a portrait during free art classes offered at League Park's Baseball Heritage Museum.
“Nicholas has been drawing since pretty much he could hold a pencil,” his mother, Delinda Mariani, said. She’s an art teacher for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and said her son connected with Francisco Lindor.
“Francisco Lindor is from Puerto Rico. My son's father's side of the family is from Puerto Rico,” she said. “I think they have that connection with the Latino background.”
Nicholas also plays shortstop and said he considers Lindor an idol.
“A good player like Lindor, you just want to be like them,” he said. “He's my favorite baseball player, and I just thought it would be cool because he's a nice guy, too.”
Nicholas chose to draw his portrait of Lindor.
“When he mentioned about doing Lindor, I think that was very appropriate on his part,” said Baseball Heritage Museum Director of Education Joe Gazzo. “Because we know the type of person he is and how passionate he is, being humble and what not, and I have to tell you, Nicholas is the same way.”
The portrait drew the eye of curators from a national museum during an August visit to Cleveland.
“They were just totally amazed by what he was able to put together,” Gazzo said.
They expressed interest in including it in an exhibit about Latinos and baseball set to open in 2020.
“It was funny because Nicholas was even a little hesitant about donating his drawing to the museum, and I said, ‘Oh no, you're absolutely donating it!’” Delinda Mariana said.
The family is also hoping to have prints of the portrait made to benefit charity and Puerto Rico hurricane relief efforts. They said they hope Lindor may be willing to sign some of them.
“I think it's an honor,” Nicholas said, adding he hopes to continue to pursue art. “At a young age like this, it's like amazing.”