Print

Community invited to celebrate dedication of Skipper Carrillo statue on Friday, July 17

By DIANNE RUSSELL

After seven years – from inception to completion – the life-size statue of Skipper Carrillo will be dedicated on Friday, July 17 at 3 p.m. at its permanent home on the corner of Glenneyre St and Park Ave. 

What better time to honor Skipper’s life than on his 82nd birthday, which also happens to be July 17. The Friends of Skipper, the City of Laguna Beach, and The Skipper Carrillo Statue Trust invite the community to join in the celebration of both these monumental events.

The statue unveiling and dedication ceremony at the location site will last about 20 minutes and then attendees will immediately reconvene at The Forest & Ocean Gallery at 480 Forest Ave for a party to honor the donors and celebrate Skipper’s birthday. 

According to the statue’s creator, Laguna artist Randy Morgan – who also produced the bronze “Waterman’s Wall,” on the side of Hobie Surf Shop – the idea for the statue was set into motion after he talked to Skipper’s sister Alicia. 

Initially, Morgan wanted the statue placed on the Laguna Beach High School baseball field, which is named after Skipper, but the school board and coastal commission have restrictions against the placement of statues of any person on school property/yards.

community invited skipper

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Skipper at statue unveiling in January of 2019 at Forest & Ocean Gallery

However, the statue’s eventual home seems to be the perfect spot – Skipper passes that corner each day on his walk downtown. The location was generously donated by the Judy Family. Laguna residents Coleman Raffo and Dr. Gary Arthur were instrumental in procuring the Judy “site” for the permanent home of the statue.

To create the statue, Morgan worked from photographs – back to front –taken by a friend. It’s titled ‘Have a Home Run Day’ to honor Skipper’s life and legend and his place in Laguna lore as one of Laguna Beach’s most beloved characters. 

Morgan says, “Skipper is a stellar individual, he’s the greatest guy, such an inspiration. I asked him once what his philosophy was and he said, ‘One is my Father in heaven; two, my parents and sister; and three are my teammates.’ 

“The statue captures the smiling Skipper, waving his arms and yelling his mantra…‘have a home run day’ (how many times have we seen him do it!). A donor plaque and a plaque telling Skipper’s life story will also be placed at the site, fulfilling a promise made to Skipper and his family to create the monument.” 

community invited Randy

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Artist Randy Morgan at Forest & Ocean Gallery

As readers know from previous Stu News articles on Skipper, he grew up with a disability that he overcame by translating everyday expressions such as “Have a good day” into baseball terminology, dubbing places with the names of baseball venues, and calling family and friends by the names of baseball greats. 

Skipper worked for Laguna Beach High School for over 50 years, proudly remembering when he made his “debut” in 1957. “That was my rookie year,” he explains. “My job was to help take care of the (football) uniforms. We had about 70 uniforms. I made the coach’s job a lot easier. I organized the uniforms for 23-24 years.” 

In addition to working with the football team, Skipper umpired at Riddle Field for 25 years. “My batting helmet’s a little bit loose these days,” he said in a previous article. “It has been a while.” 

community invited fundraiser

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Randy with builder Bob Roper and “Have a Homerun Day” at the site

Morgan says, “It’s been a total community effort involving many different groups to get this done. I’m so grateful to everyone. I thought it would be the easiest thing in the world.”

According to Morgan, there have been numerous people over the past seven years who helped raise money and have been instrumental in bringing the project to fruition: The Arts and Planning Commission, a trust created by Philo Smith to raise funds for the sculpture. Smith, Morgan, Coleman Raffo, Forest & Ocean Gallery owner Ludo Liederitz, and Katy Moss serve as trustees. Michael Byrne, owner of Roux and The Saloon, has held multiple fundraisers. Ludo at the Forest and Ocean Gallery has been the director of the entire effort for fundraising and managing the project along with Randy.

The Friends of Skipper includes five groups – St. Catherine’s Catholic Church, The Skipper Carrillo Scholarship Fund, all the sports teams at Laguna Beach High School, the Skipper Carrillo Statue Fund, many private donors, and all the friends of Skipper Carrillo.

community invited gallery

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Randy and Forest & Ocean Gallery owner Ludo Liederitz packing up statue for transport 

Longtime Laguna Beach dentist Mark Judy and Diane Riegler (the Judy Family) donated the site on property they own. Ryan Singer, son of the late architect Mark Singer, donated his architectural services for the project, which was built by contractor Bob Roper, who got all the approvals and donated his services.

Morgan says, “At the beginning, I remember asking Bob Roper, ‘How busy are you?’ And he said, ‘I’m booked for two years,’ but when I explained the project, he immediately stepped up and asked, ‘What time do you want me there?’”

“It’s been a long journey, and we are happy to get it done,” says Morgan.

Although the culmination of that seven-year journey ends once the “Have a Home Run Day” statue is dedicated at the ceremony on July 17, there’s no doubt that everyone who passes it will continue to be inspired by Skipper Carrillo and the joyful and abundant spirit he brings to everyone he meets. 

However, another project is underway. Morgan is in the process of completing a documentary film with his producing partner Mark Gold of Fresh Cats Entertainment, which they are hoping to screen at the Newport Film Festival next year. This documentary will feature the song “Have A Home Run Day” by Gary Arthur.