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Yankee fan stands tall with 8-foot wooden bat on his front lawn in Goshen 

  • <br/>Russell Richardson with the bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down in the front yard of his home in Williamsburg.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS


    Russell Richardson with the bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down in the front yard of his home in Williamsburg.

    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Russell Richardson with the bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down in the front yard of his home in Williamsburg.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS


    Russell Richardson with the bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down in the front yard of his home in Williamsburg.

    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Russell Richardson with the bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down in the front yard of his home in Williamsburg.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS


    Russell Richardson with the bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down in the front yard of his home in Williamsburg.

    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Russell Richardson holds a plate with Don Larson  on it that he got 25 years ago at a flea market in Ct. In Richardson's yard at his home in Williamsburg is a  bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down.CAROL LOLLIS <br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Russell Richardson holds a plate with Don Larson on it that he got 25 years ago at a flea market in Ct. In Richardson's yard at his home in Williamsburg is a bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down.CAROL LOLLIS
    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Russell Richardson holds a plate with Lou Gehrig on it that he got 25 years ago at a flea market in Ct. In Richardson's yard at his home in Williamsburg is a  bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down.CAROL LOLLIS

    Russell Richardson holds a plate with Lou Gehrig on it that he got 25 years ago at a flea market in Ct. In Richardson's yard at his home in Williamsburg is a bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down.CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Russell Richardson with the bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down in the front yard of his home in Williamsburg.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • <br/>Russell Richardson with the bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down in the front yard of his home in Williamsburg.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • <br/>Russell Richardson with the bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down in the front yard of his home in Williamsburg.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Russell Richardson holds a plate with Don Larson  on it that he got 25 years ago at a flea market in Ct. In Richardson's yard at his home in Williamsburg is a  bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down.CAROL LOLLIS <br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Russell Richardson holds a plate with Lou Gehrig on it that he got 25 years ago at a flea market in Ct. In Richardson's yard at his home in Williamsburg is a  bat carved out of a tree that was recently cut down.CAROL LOLLIS

Sporting a Yankees ball cap and T-shirt, the 81 year-old Richardson said the bat has been getting a lot of attention.

“People drive by and give a thumbs-up, and some give me a thumbs-down. A few have stopped to take pictures,” he said.

The bat was carved from the remnants of a dying 100-foot-tall shagbark hickory tree that Richardson estimated to be about 68 years old.

“That tree was dying from the top. I had been waiting for a while to have it cut down,” Richardson said. “Then, very spur-of-the-moment, I thought, Hey, why not carve it into a baseball bat?”

Richardson said his next-door neighbor Jeff Ovitt covered the cost of the carving.

“My neighbor is a great friend and he helps me with a lot of things,” Richardson said.

Ovitt, who has known Richardson for 10 years and often helps him with projects and errands, said the Yankees sculpture was par for the course.

“It didn’t surprise me at all that he wanted a Yankees bat,” Ovitt said. “We give him Christmas presents and birthday presents, and he is always easy to shop for, because you can just get him anything Yankees.”

Ovitt also found the artist to make the unusual yard sculpture.

“He shopped around for someone who could do this and found her online,” Richardson said.

The artist they selected was Sue O’Sullivan of Renaissance Girl Artwork in Royalston, who created the bat over the course of a weekend.

O’Sullivan, who does commissioned artwork in a variety of mediums, including portraits in pencil, pen and ink, watercolor and acrylics, as well as chain saw carvings, said this commission surprised her a bit.

She said she was taken aback when Richardson told her he wanted the Yankees emblem on the bat.

“I actually tried to talk him out of it, but he was pretty set on the idea,” O’Sullivan said.

O’Sullivan said the job was unique in both theme and wood type.

“I work in mainly in pine — this hickory is the first hardwood I have done. It took a total of 13 hours and there were about 15 nails in the tree,” she said.

O’Sullivan said the job is not quite finished. When it is, there will be a baseball on the top of the bat.

“I was very pleased with the way it came out,” Ovitt said. “I think she did a fantastic job.”

Native son

Born and raised in Goshen, Richardson says he has been a Yankees fan since he was a teenager.

“When I was about 16 years old, I made a bet with a friend who was a Red Sox fan that the Yankees would beat them in the World Series,” Richardson said.

“I won $2 on that bet, which is a good thing, because I would have had to wait another 84 years before the Red Sox ever made it to the World Series again,” he said with a sly smile.

A collector of all things Yankee, Richardson made multiple trips into his house during an interview last week with a Gazette reporter, proudly bringing out bits and pieces of his collection.

“These were gifts from a friend,” he said as he carefully displayed three commemorative plates. One was of Yankees pitcher Don Larsen, who had a perfect game in the 1956 World Series. The other two featured baseball greats center fielder Joe DiMaggio, nicknamed the “Yankee Clipper,” who played for the Yankees from 1936 to 1942 and 1946 to 1951, and first baseman Lou Gehrig, who played from 1923 to 1939.

Having been a baseball fan for most of his life, Richardson couldn’t resist chatting about how the game has changed.

“The gloves they use these days aren’t what they used to be. Anyone could catch anything in the big gloves they wear today,” he said.

Richardson said he is used to the friendly back-and-forth ribbing that goes on between him and his friends who do not share his enthusiasm for the New York team.

“I told him he might be a little bit nuts to put Yankees on there,” Ovitt said. “I said if the hickory on the other side of the driveway ever has to be cut down, we could carve that into a Red Sox bat.”

Being on a busy road in Red Sox country, Ovitt said he hoped nobody would try to vandalize the bat.

In reality, Ovitt is highly supportive of his neighbor’s love of all things Yankees.

“Jeff gave me a Yankees decal for my car, and that sign on my door,” Richardson said pointing out a small wooden sign that read “Yankee fans welcome, Red Sox fans not.”

When Richardson hung up the sign, he said Ovitt joked with him, saying, “Well, I guess you won’t have much company now.”

But Richardson has not found himself lacking in friends or visitors. When he is not collecting Yankees souvenirs, he enjoys dancing on the weekends.

“Polka is my other sport. I enjoy it and I think it keeps me young,” he said.

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