The Starkville Rotary Club heard from the man behind the “Thunder and Lightning” sculptures at the entrance to Dudy Noble Field Monday.
Dr. Rusty Reid, a pediatric dentist and sculptor, crated the statues of legendary MSU baseball players Rafael Palmeiro and Will Clark, known collectively as “Thunder and Lightning.” The 1 1/3 scale likenesses of the players greet fans on their way into the stadium. Reid is an MSU alumnus, and began sculpting as a hobby in Brookhaven before being encouraged to hone his craft by Mississippi sculptor Bruce Brady who saw his potential as a sculptor. He also listed Mississippi sculptor and physician Dr. Kim Sessums as an influence.
The monuments were dedicated in February after approximately a year and a half of work. After practicing dentistry from Monday through Thursday, Reid would drive to Starkville and work on the sculptures in a studio on Stark Road during the weekend before returning home Sunday night to go back to his practice Monday morning. He described meeting with Mississippi State University Athletic Director John Cohen after he initially offered to donate the sculptures.
“It was quite simple,” Reid said. “I had been traveling around and going to other universities, and I had always noticed that we didn’t have a lot of bronzes on this campus. We certainly didn’t have any of our athletes n bronze. That kind of tugged at me.”
“The Lord’s blessed me with a good practice,” Reid added. “I wanted to do something at some point for the university, so when I called John, that was the flavor of the conversation.”
Reid said Cohen was excited about the project even before he saw any examples of his work.
Reid initially made two-foot-tall statues of Palmeiro and Clark, based on extensive measurements and photographs taken of the men. The sculptures were made using clay placed over a wire skeleton.
Once complete, the models were sent to a company in New Jersey that made larger dead-on copies of the models. Reid then covered the large models with clay and added details before sending them to a foundry in Memphis to be cast in bronze. Reid estimated the total cost of the project to be between $300,000 and $400,000.
“My sculpture style is detailed,” Reid said. “Well, that’s what John wanted, extremely detailed. We wanted it to go hand-in-hand with what the architects were doing with the stadium, so there was a lot of work, a lot of planning before Will and Rafael even got involved with it.”
For more on this story, read Tuesday's Starkville Daily News.