Twins' logo illustrator passes away
Barton created iconic Minnie and Paul characters
Ray Barton, the St. Paul, Minn., cartoonist who created the famous Twins image of two players shaking hands across a river, died of cancer over the weekend, according to multiple reports. He was 80.
Barton, the reports stated, was paid $15 in 1961 to create the image. At the time, he assumed it would grace the sides of Dixie Cups at Metropolitan Stadium for Minnesota's new Major League team, the Twins. But then-owner Calvin Griffith decided to turn the drawing into the team's official logo.
Since then, that cartoon image of Minnie and Paul has been the face of the organization.
It has been included as an arm patch on nearly every team uniform, was depicted in pennants and even got featured in a special-edition bobblehead sculpture. Now, every time the Twins hit a home run at the new Target Field, a giant sculpture of the image that hovers over center field lights up, and the two players shake hands.
"It represents the Minnesota Twins," Clyde Doepner, the Twins' full-time historian, told The St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I think the word 'tradition' comes up. It goes back to '61. When you think of Killebrew, Carew, even when you think of Puckett, you think of that [logo]."
Barton also created artwork for ad agencies and national companies based in Minnesota, but the Minne and Paul cartoon has been his lasting image.
Doepner told the Pioneer Press the team's earliest record of Barton's picture was a Jan. 16, 1961 wire photo announcing Minnie and Paul -- representing Minneapolis and St. Paul -- as the team's logo. The pair hasn't changed much, besides the lettering on their jerseys.
Barton is survived by his wife, Joyce, along with six children and 17 grandchildren, according to the Pioneer Press.
One of Barton's sons, Tony, said his father was never really happy with the logo.
"It wasn't one of his crowning achievements," Barton was quoted as saying. "He was a cartoonist, a writer, a creative director, but he never really thought it was that great. And if you look at it close, it really isn't. Anyone out of art school could have done it. He just happened to be the one who did it.
Although Ray Barton was too sick to make it to the new stadium to see his illustration as a giant sign, Tony told the Pioneer Press his father "thought it was a great thing. And not only because he did it, but because he was a Twins fan, too."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.