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World Series champ Steve Sax digitizes Babe Ruth art to raise money for foundation in honor of late Marine son

Steve Sax digitized an Opie Otterstad painting, "Babe and the Kids," and minted it on the blockchain as an NFT to raise money for the Captain John J. Sax Family Foundation.

On June 8, 2022, five U.S. Marines who were part of Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, died in a military aircraft accident in California that involved malfunctioning engines.

Capt. John J. Sax, USMC, was one of those aviators. In his honor, in 2023, the Sax family established the Captain John J. Sax Family Foundation.

"My son was just the greatest person I ever knew," Stephen Sax, a former MLB player and coach, told Fox News Digital. "My son has always been my hero. He always wanted to be an aviator, and my son really had to struggle through different parts to become that aviator."

While aspiring to become a jet fighter in the Navy, John blew out his elbow. Following his recovery, he was hit with another roadblock that resulted in treatment for an astigmatism. Again, John filed back in line for the Marine Corps. In 2020, John received his Marine "Wings of Gold."


"The essence of the foundation, or the mission of the foundation, is to help other aviators, people that have a quest to become an aviator, a love for flight, to accomplish that goal," Sax said. "We’re going to help those same people that face obstacles in their quest to become a great aviator."

The foundation funds grants and scholarships to students and schools upholding the foundation’s mission of supporting and producing successful aviators.

In an effort to raise money for the cause, Sax partnered with MLB to digitize a painting, "Babe and the Kids," by award-winning sports artist Opie Otterstad. The painting depicts Babe Ruth on a barnstorming tour in 1922. In it, he is tightly surrounded by smiling young children.


The youngsgters in the painting are 58 former Major League Baseball players, 56 of whom are Hall of Fame inductees.

"He supplanted, or changed out the faces and painted in Hall of Famers when they were little boys," Sax said.

In the lower right-hand corner, observers will find Nolan Ryan, a former MLB pitcher and 1999 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee.

Sax, with lots of help, worked for two years to unveil the digitized Otterstad art and mint it on the blockchain as an NFT. An NFT is permanently and immutably minted onto a blockchain.

"It can never be altered," Sax said. "There's never going to be an addition to more than there is now."

The Sax foundation has 200 NFTs available. However, only 150 of them are for sale.

The 53rd NFT is to be given to Don Drysdale’s daughter Drew. Drysdale, "Big D," was a former pitcher for the Dodgers. In 1984, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and, that same year, his No. 53 was retired by the LA team.

The Dodgers will receive the 42nd NFT by Sax and the foundation in honor of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in the MLB.

In the rendering, users can click on Ryan, Drysdale, Robinson or any of the other children and tune into a few minutes of highlights from their time as MLB stars.


"If somebody says ‘Well, tell me real quick about it,’ I can't tell you real quick about it," Sax said. "There's too much to it; there's so much history."

Otterstad spent eight years completing the piece. He visited local courthouses and athlete’s families to retrieve the necessary permissions to paint the men.

Through his journey to narrate this piece of history, Otterstad was unable to locate a childhood photograph of Juan Marichal, a former MLB pitcher from the Dominican Republic and a 1983 Hall of Fame inductee. Instead of replacing him, he used a childhood photograph of his daughter, who Sax says was a "dead ringer" for her dad.

"They did the same thing with Roy Campanella," Sax said of the former MLB catcher. "They painted a picture of his little boy, who was again a dead ringer for his dad when he was that age."

The NFT of former all-stars can be seen on a screen as meager as an Apple Watch or as wide-reaching as the SoFi Stadium jumbotron that spans 129 yards and will still conserve its clarity.

"The reason that the NFT makes it so valuable is because it keeps the exclusivity and rarity intact," Sax said. "If there was 10,000 of these prints that were out there, and they were just everywhere, anybody could say, ‘You know, we could get that printed whenever we wanted.’"

Minted NFTs are often compared to valuable trading cards. In terms of high grade baseball cards that command equal value, Sax believes this NFT compares to former Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge or megastar Shohei Ohtani.

The cost of each NFT is $15,000 or crypto and is accompanied by decision-making rights and exclusive invitations to foundation events.

"Anyone that buys one of these is going to be teammates with us," Sax said.

Seventy-five percent of proceeds will go directly to the cause.

"We want to carry his legacy and love for flight forward and, through this project, we’re going to be able to do that," Sax said.

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