clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Book Review: 'Dorothy And Otis'

New, 8 comments

This isn't a baseball book, but there's plenty of Cubs-related material inside.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Courtesy Mike Bojanowski

Many of you have probably heard of Otis Shepard, who worked for P.K. Wrigley for many years, designing advertising for Wrigley's gum company, and later for the Cubs.

Shepard actually did much more than that, and "Dorothy And Otis", a coffee-table-size book, tells the story of the enormous influence that Otis and his wife Dorothy had on American advertising and art in the first half of the 20th Century.

Otis came from a hardscrabble background in Kansas, and he left home at age 12, winding up first in Texas as an apprentice in a photoengraving shop and then later in the Bay Area. Dorothy was from a wealthy Bay Area family, and the two of them met in the 1920s, when much of society was becoming what was later termed "bohemian." Dorothy, for her part, was once evicted from a San Francisco apartment for nude sunbathing.

Anyway, after marrying in 1929, the couple moved to New York and set to work as designers in the advertising world. Eventually they caught the eye of Wrigley, who connected with Otis immediately. The book quotes Otis:

I'll never forget the first poster design I made for the Wrigley Company. Mr. Wrigley looked at it and said, "I don't like it." And I said, "Mr. Wrigley, what has that got to do with it?" I said, "Are you selling chewing gum or are you going to hang this in your parlor?" He looked at me for a minute, and then he said, "I think you've got something there." I think that cemented our relations right there and then. I don't think I've ever made one since that he did like. As long as the sales curve went up, that was all that was necessary.

Otis Shepard went on to work for Wrigley for 30 years, and in that time, he eventually came to design things for the Cubs. When I say "things," I know you're familiar with his scorecard designs, which I've posted here a number of times, one of which you see above. But it's not just scorecards that Shepard designed for the Cubs -- he did business cards, cards that allowed media into the old press dining room called the "Pink Poodle," press pins and even the Cubs' uniforms of the 1930s and 1940s.

The beautiful photographs of the scorecards and other Cubs things are what's worth having this book for Cubs fans. Almost all the scorecard images from the late 1930s through the late 1960s are in the book, courtesy of scans from BCB's Mike Bojanowski, who also provided the scans that I've posted here in the past. Unfortunately, his name got completely mangled somehow in the acknowledgements in the back of the book, and so did Gabby Hartnett's (it was spelled "Harnett" for some reason).

This book is well worth having for any Cubs fan, because it shows off in beautiful images a slice of the team's history, much of which has been forgotten in the modern era. To this day, both advertising and baseball images show the enormous influence of Otis and Dorothy Shepard.