Kenneth Herlihy’s marble Moebius on the Radnor Trail at the Wayne Art Center in Wayne, Pa. Source: wayneart.org.

Who is the Kent County sculptor who created the statues of Capt. Stanley Vansant, William “Swish” Nicholson, and Jimmie Foxx?

A. Alex Castro

B. Pam Foss

C. Rob Glebe

D. Kenneth Herlihy

How fortunate we are to be the beneficiaries of Kent County resident sculptor Kenneth Herlihy’s  works of art. His ability to bring to life in bronze the raw strength and determination of the following paragons is crystal clear.

Born in 1907, James Emory Foxx, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, spent most of his career “with the Philadelphia As and Boston Red Sox, but concluded his playing days with the Philadelphia Phillies.”

In 1996,  Herlihy completed his life-like sculpture of Jimmie Foxx, poised with his bat steady, ready for the pitch.  Self-assuredly positioned in the memorial park at the intersection of Routes 300 and 313 in Sudlersville, one can sense the artist’s sensitivity in capturing the immense power in those iron mega-muscled arms and shoulders.  His stance is ready for a bullet take-off for first base.   Foxx attributed his extraordinary batting power to his muscle-building years of “baling hay and milking cows.”

Kenneth Herlihy had been contemplating a way to honor watermen for a time before he fulfilled his vision, in 1995, by sculpting the 16-foot bronze veteran tonging for oysters on the harborside in Rock Hall.

He described his model, Rock Hall’s well-known longtime prolific boat builder and waterman, Captain Stanley B. Vansant (1908-1990), as a “wonderful man, the perfect model, kind and patient, and very understanding of what I was trying to do.” Tonging for oysters, like connecting a bat with a ball, requires determination, wisdom and focus in planning and considerable strength for success.  Mr. Herlihy has clearly captured all these attributes in this local hero’s commemoration that honors all watermen.

William Beck “Swish” Nicholson (1914-1996) lived to see himself in bronze, sculpted by Kenneth Herlihy, installed on busy Cross St. in 1992–becoming part of the fabric of everyday life in Chestertown in perpetuity.

He was “Bill’ to most, but became “Swish” after “his fans at Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn heard the sound made when his bat whipped through the air.”  A true home-town hero, “Swish” was born on the family farm and attended local schools.  His spectacular sports ability wasn’t apparent until his first participation, in his Kent County High junior year.  He is buried at nearby St. Paul’s next to his two brothers, Albert and “Larny”.

A proud community, anxious to celebrate their native son, raised the funds and commissioned Kenneth Herlihy to create their memorial.  Herlihy has captured the ease of this modest man’s grace  after hitting with his famous “swish.”  His eyes are on the ball, his bat  carefully lowered to the ground, his powerful left shoulder leading and balancing his body, with his left foot propelling the right foot for the lightning dash to first base.

Many thanks to Kenneth Herlihy for sharing his rare sensitivity and gift for understanding.

The Kent County History Quiz is a weekly local brainteaser sponsored by The Peoples Bank. Kent County historian and author Joan Horsey and columnist Kate Meehan contribute to the quiz’s development. Our goal is to create an opportunity for local learning and discussion. If you have a quiz idea, send it to steve@kentpilot.org.