Todd Radom is everywhere, yet he is nowhere, a man behind the curtain of the American sporting landscape. He creates the images and logos that are woven into the fabric of sports, leaving an indelible yet subtle impression on the public all while remaining virtually anonymous to the millions who have come to know and love his work.
Radom, 58, who lives about 90 minutes north of Manhattan, is a master storyteller, using imagery as a way of celebrating the subject du jour. His work ranges from creating the face of season tickets for a particular team, to designing a logo for a particular anniversary or event to helping a professional team reimagine its branding and design.
He created the logo for Super Bowl XXXVIII, designed the logo and branding which the Los Angeles Angels have used since 2002 in addition to creating logos that can be seen at ballparks and on uniform patches across the country. Radom has created more than two dozen specialty anniversary logos, including ones celebrated by the Yankees, Mariners, White Sox, Twins and Los Angeles Lakers.
“I did the logo for Super Bowl XXXVIII and when it comes to sports in America, it doesn’t get any bigger than that,” Radom said. “And I did the look the Angels still use today. They ran that out in 2002 and then won the World Series, so you’re welcome.”
While Radom obviously cannot guarantee that a title will accompany the unveiling of his work, he does provide a distinctly unique vision of how each celebration, ticket or logo should be depicted. He’s been designing these creations for more than three decades, relying on an extensive knowledge of sports history [particularly baseball] to make each logo or design an accurate representation that will appeal to that particular fandom.
His love of sport, and of drawing, was nurtured while growing up in the shadow of New York City in 1970s and ’80s and plays an important role in nearly every creation.
WAIT, YOU LIKE WHAT TEAM?
Radom grew up in Yonkers, N.Y., a city in Westchester County which is bordered by the Hudson River to the west and The Bronx to the south. He is a fourth-generation artist, having grown up in a family that included his father, whom Radom described as a creative jack-of-all-trades. His grandfather was an illustrator and a painter while his great grandfather created signage and murals.
“It all runs very deep in my DNA,” Radom said.
The strand of that DNA that he does not share with his dad, however, pertains to baseball. The elder Radom loved the Yankees, taking advantage of the fact that their family home was just a short trip from Yankee Stadium. Radom, however, followed a different path, and became a fan of the Red Sox, the Yankees’ hated rival to the north.
The Red Sox of the mid-1970s were a colorful team stocked with several Hall-of-Famers, including Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski, who was Radom’s favorite player. Radom’s love of the Sox was more a result of geography and the limitations of television during that era, though, than it was about disliking the Yankees.
“When I was a kid, we’d go to Montauk on the east end of Long Island in the summer,” Radom said. “My father would go back to the city [for work] during the week and I’d be stuck out there with my brother. I was bored out of my skull. The only TV we had would come from across the [Long Island] Sound from Rhode Island. So, I grew up watching Red Sox games in 1975, 76 and 77. I still have my first Red Sox cap. I never threw it out.”
“I was one of the kids who doodled sports logos on notebooks. All these years later, my work has appeared on the uniforms of all these clubs.”
Radom’s love of the Sox, stoked by listening to Ned Martin and Jim Woods on their Channel 6 broadcasts from Providence, grew stronger by the year following Boston’s run to an American League pennant and subsequent heartbreaking loss to the Reds in the 1975 World Series. His first excursion to fabled Fenway Park, however, came in September of 1978 when he joined his father for the final two games of a four-game set during which the Yankees swept the Sox. The series became known as The Boston Massacre and helped set up the playoff game that New York won thanks in part to Bucky Dent’s historic home run.
While the Sox provided more heartache than happiness in the ensuing years, it was a time when Radom’s love of baseball and of drawing continued to grow. It also started to become apparent where his career might take him.
“It [art] was not necessarily something that was encouraged but it was not discouraged either,” he said. “For anybody having those role models around it was affirming. I didn’t have a direction but I got a scholarship to The School of Visual Arts. I grew up in Yonkers in a solid, middle-class family so if you got a scholarship, that’s where you were going. It made my path more defined.
“And I was one of the kids who doodled sports logos on notebooks. All these years later, my work has appeared on the uniforms of all these clubs. I was interested in sports and designs and they converged at an early age. The fact that I came from an artistic family let me look at sports through a different lens.”
That lens brought his career into better focus as college drew to a close and Radom headed out into the world. He would wind up working in a field that, at the time, didn’t really exist, at least not as it is does today. Radom, however, was one of the pioneers whose art and knowledge of sport would someday lay the foundation for what has become an expansive field.
He had also been freelancing while still in college, doing hand lettering, which he labeled a valuable skill. It all added up to him being an unbelievably versatile commodity.
“I was doing stuff for book publishers and ad agencies,” Radom said. “New York was the epicenter of advertising and media so the opportunity was there, especially for someone who was willing to hustle. I absolutely saw a path maybe by my third year in college, especially since I had some peers in different fields who were tossing me leads.
“It was a straighter path toward a creative career then than it is now. It was easier to get noticed with those specific skills.”
MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF
Radom’s career path began in the field of book publishing at Penguin Books. He said he was “churning out” book covers during what he labeled as the golden age of baseball books. There were scores of baseball titles being published at the time and he took advantage of the opportunity.
“They said give this to Todd, it’s in his lane,” Radom said. “So, I basically developed an entire portfolio of baseball book covers. It was literally a big black case. Sports design did not exist at the time. Something was happening in the late 80s and early 90s, though. Every pro league had expansion teams, teams that were on the move and fashion and sports uniforms were converging. There was an explosion of licensing projects that afforded an opportunity to a select handful of people.
“I had developed a portfolio of baseball stuff. Major League Baseball was opening its first in-house creative design department. That was in 1991 or ’92. Back in those days, you’d drop a portfolio off at the ad agency and they would take a look at it, and you would come back after 4 o’clock and pick it up.”
Often, Radom said, an agency or prospective employer would include a note in your portfolio telling you they would keep your work on file for possible future use. But when he dropped his portfolio off for the MLB position, he received a pleasant surprise upon picking it up at day’s end.
“There was a note in there that said why don’t you come back; we should do some business together,” Radom said. “That was over 30 years ago. I was given smaller assignments at the time. The Dodgers tour of Asia logo in 1992 or ’93 was something that was representative of that. So, I did some commemorative logos and the first big team rebrand I did was for the Brewers in 1993 going into 1994. That was me.
“I should preface all of this by saying that the creative director for all of it was Anne Occi, who retired last year. She was responsible for the gatekeeping and being the curator and the guardian of the look of Major League Baseball for three decades. I owe her a debt of gratitude.”
Radom’s reputation as a talented, dependable artist was beginning to grow as he established himself with the power brokers of Major League Baseball. He began working with the NBA and the NFL during the mid-90s, taking his reputation from the baseball diamond to the other major sports. Still, baseball was his first and greatest love.
“Baseball has been my true love since I was a kid,” Radom said. “It’s something that is always there during the summer. It’s the background of summer.”
Little did Radom know that in a way, he would also become one of the backgrounds of summer. He created the Jackie Robinson 50th anniversary patch that was introduced in 1997 as a way that all teams could celebrate the breaking of the color barrier in baseball. Radom was also called upon again this year to be part of the team that created the 75th anniversary patch that will be worn to commemorate Robinson’s Major League debut.
Additionally, Radom designed 25th and 40th anniversary patches commemorating Hank Aaron passing Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list. Radom also created a trio of Derek Jeter patches, celebrating his 3,000th hit, his becoming the Yankees’ all-time hit leader and a third honoring his captaincy.
One of his more interesting creations was the season-ticket package he designed for the Chicago White Sox in 2017, which included 81 pieces of art detailing the club’s extensive history that goes back more than a century. Radom’s work appeared not only tickets but throughout the ballpark on yearbooks, cups and notecards.
Radom’s effort proved to be so exceptional that the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown has made the project part of its permanent collection.
He has also written several books, including “Winning Ugly: A Visual History of the Most Bizarre Baseball Uniforms Ever Worn” and “Fabric of the Game: The Stories Behind the NHL’s Names, Logos and Uniforms”, which he wrote with Chris Creamer.
The list is endless. There have been scores of stadium patches, team anniversary logos and team branding creations, including two of his favorite and more noteworthy creations for the Brooklyn Cyclones and New York Mets.
“I do have one that’s dear to my heart,” Radom said. “I love it for several reasons, the Brooklyn Cyclones [a rookie-league affiliate of the Mets]. I love history of all kinds and so much of my work relates back to sports history. So, creating the identity for the first pro team in Brooklyn since the Dodgers left famously in 1958 was a cool thing and great challenge.
“You combine the fact that you have the club and it’s in Coney Island, so you have a definite sense of place. I love everything about it. It’s 21 years old this year so I can buy the logo a beer. And it still looks good. I’m proud of it and I love it.”
Radom also created the logo for the final season of Shea Stadium in Queens. The logo currently adorns the Shea Bridge, which sits above and beyond the right centerfield fence at Citi Field.
“It’s very meaningful to me as a New Yorker,” said Radom, who also created the logo for the final season of the old Yankee Stadium. “To know that it’s permanently out there brings a smile to my face. I remember flying into LaGuardia [Airport across Flushing Bay from the ballpark] before the last piece of Shea came down. It brings back a lot of memories.”
World Baseball Classic logo
NO SLOWING DOWN
Retirement doesn’t appear to be in the offing any time soon. Radom continues to produce exciting new logos and brands, including the digital identity for the Wichita Wind Surge, the Double-A affiliate for the Minnesota Twins. He also did the cover art for the recently released book “Chili Dog MVP: Dick Allen, the 1972 White Sox and Transforming Chicago”.
Where Radom goes from here is anyone’s guess. He said that he always thought a fascinating challenge would be to create something for Nippon Professional Baseball [NPB] because it is “outside his comfort zone culturally”. Such a venture would be another impressive line on an already long and extraordinary resume.
“I’m humbled, honored and lucky to have created an identity for teams, All-Star games and the all the logos I have done at one point or another,” Radom said.
Radom is everywhere. All you have to do is pull back the curtain and he’ll be easy to see.