Matthew Lee Rosen’s Be Like Mike mural in Rogers Park
Matthew Lee Rosen’s Be Like Mike mural in Rogers Park
Michael Jordan’s life-size wingspan cautions lake-goers to wear a mask and keep their distance.

Rosen urges locals to Be Like Mike. His yellow traffic sign mural along the lakefront in Rogers Park depicts Michael Jordan in a mask.

It’s summer, and just like everyone else in the city, I want to be outside and enjoy our long days. But, every time I go by the lakefront, I’m completely terrified at the sight of nearly everyone walking, running, biking or skating along the path without a mask… never mind the fact that they don’t adhere to social distancing either.

It’s completely irresponsible. Is it so difficult to simply put on a mask and keep your distance? …


Baseball card artist Matthew Rosen with his bubble gum collector cards
Baseball card artist Matthew Rosen with his bubble gum collector cards
Baseball card artist Matthew Lee Rosen in his home studio.

The smell of chewing gum and card stock always triggers my fond memories of collecting baseball cards as a kid. Like anyone else who accumulated boxes of cards in the 1980’s, I was told they’d be worth lots of money when I got older… only to discover they were pretty worthless. So, what happened?

Well, I learned that Topps lost a monopolization lawsuit which triggered new market competition in 1981 from Fleer and Donruss. Over the next decade, a few more brands entered the mix (Sportflics, Score and Upper Deck), and they all vied for shelf space. This created massive…


Artist Matthew Lee Rosen (aka Matthew Rosen) with his Giant Gum Stick baseball card portraits.
Artist Matthew Lee Rosen (aka Matthew Rosen) with his Giant Gum Stick baseball card portraits.
Artist Matthew Lee Rosen with his Giant Gum Stick baseball card portraits.

When I originally brainstormed my gum stick artwork, I was thrilled by the new concept. As a kid growing up in the 80’s, the last card inside a pack would often get stuck to, or stained by, the piece of gum inside. I was an 8-year-old expert on this topic: I spent the summer of ’85 opening wax packs and chewing hard sticks of bubble gum on a daily basis.


Artist Matthew Lee Rosen (aka Matthew Rosen) at a mural in Rogers Park
Artist Matthew Lee Rosen (aka Matthew Rosen) at a mural in Rogers Park
Artist Matthew Lee Rosen at a mural in Rogers Park

A couple years back, I randomly found myself driving through my old stomping grounds of Wicker Park. I lived there in my early 20's… in a tiny studio apartment above an out-of-place French restaurant with a methadone clinic across the street. As terrible as that sounds, it was quite the dream location for a young aspiring artist. A grungy, graffiti-filled stretch of road with a ton of creatives living in low rent. That afternoon, I was in complete awe from how the neighborhood changed. …


Baseball card art by Matthew Lee Rosen (aka Matthew Rosen) — 1985 Topps Trivia
Baseball card art by Matthew Lee Rosen (aka Matthew Rosen) — 1985 Topps Trivia
1985 Topps Trivia Quiz by Baseball Card Artist Matthew Lee Rosen. Made with Topps Jumbo 5" x 7" Cards

I’ve always enjoyed the backs of baseball cards as much as the front, especially on the old colored card stock. Over the years, Topps has filled their backs with stats, comics, personal facts, career highlights, trivia questions and more.

I was eight years old in the summer of 1985, and my grandfather was spoiling me with wax packs nearly every day. He was like a magician… making packs appear out of nowhere or fall out of his pant leg. The backs had a pleasant grass green tint to it, with a complimentary red text. It was almost Christmas-like, except it…


Artist Matthew Rosen poses with his Boom Stick baseball bat
Artist Matthew Rosen poses with his Boom Stick baseball bat
Matthew Rosen looking over his design work on the Boom Stick.

When I was 14 or 15 years old, my friends and I used to challenge each other to epic home run derby battles… using wiffle ball bats and tennis balls. We’d set up home plate on the street, and on certain neighborhood blocks we spray painted bases. The home run markers would vary, but they often consisted of hitting the ball over roofs. Simple, yet effective… and difficult to challenge.

I wanted some extra juice in my standard skinny yellow wiffle ball bat, so I devised a way to cut open the stop, stuff it with newspaper, and then seal…


The Mendoza Line, a baseball card painting by artist Matthew Lee Rosen. Made with a collection of vintage 1975 Topps Minis.
The Mendoza Line, a baseball card painting by artist Matthew Lee Rosen. Made with a collection of vintage 1975 Topps Minis.
The Mendoza Line, a baseball card painting by artist Matthew Lee Rosen. Made with a collection of vintage 1975 Topps Minis.

The fact that Mario Mendoza somehow managed to stick in the major leagues for parts of eight seasons might just be the eighth wonder of the world. One glance at the back of an old Topps Mario Mendoza baseball card would tell you that he was a 5’11” infielder from Chihuahua, Mexico, who probably hit below .200 in the previous season. That’s a genuine Hall of Shame-worthy accomplishment, which occurred four times in his career.

Now, flip the card over to the front and you’ll quickly discover just why he couldn’t hit! You’ll see a man with squinty eyes desperately…

Matthew Lee Rosen

I’m a baseball card artist… repurposing vintage cards to celebrate the pop culture of America’s pastime. Friends just call me “Rosen.”

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