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Fundraising starts for sculpture of longtime Laguna community leader Skipper Carrillo

Artist Randy Morgan stands near his model of Skipper Carrillo at the Forest & Ocean Gallery. Gallery owner Ludo Leideritz and Morgan have kick-started a fundraising effort for a life-sized statue of Carrillo, a devoted volunteer at Laguna Beach High.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

A professional artist and a Laguna Beach gallery owner are teaming up for a fundraiser to recognize a revered community leader.

Ludo Leideritz, owner of the Forest & Ocean Gallery at 480 Ocean Ave., hosted a gathering this month to announce the plan for a life-size bronze statue of Skipper Carrillo, who volunteered for more than 30 years for Laguna Beach High’s baseball and football teams and coined the term, “Have a home run day.”

“So far, we’ve raised just under $2,500, enough to get the materials for the armature [framework],” Leideritz said Friday while standing next to a maquette of the statue inside the gallery.

The goal is to raise $85,000.

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The maquette, formed by bronze sculptor Randy Morgan, shows Carrillo standing with his right arm extended as if he is waving. Morgan will create the life-size version, which he said will stand about 6 feet 6.

Leideritz said Morgan had the idea of creating a statue to honor Carrillo, 79.

Morgan met Carrillo in the 1970s. Morgan recalled living on Anita Street, and Carrillo walking by and saying, “Have a home run day.”

“He’s always in a good mood,” Morgan said. “He always hugs people.”

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Carrillo was born prematurely, weighing 3 pounds. His sister, Alicia Rowe, said that her brother did not speak a word until age 3, according to the book Rowe authored about Carrillo, “Have A Home Run Day!”

Carrillo earned a reputation for selflessness at an early age.

In the book, Rowe described a time when the family was eating breakfast. Their mother, Alice, waited on requests for more milk and a spoon when Carrillo, sitting in a high chair, said, “Sit down, Mother, and drink your coffee,” Rowe wrote. “We were all stunned. Mother gasped and put her hand over her mouth. Then she reached for Tolly. Dad laughed, and we all hugged …

“Something I didn’t realize for many years was that the child, Tolly, who later asked to be called ‘Skipper,’ had spoken his first words out of consideration for another person.”

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Carrillo’s love of America’s favorite pastime led him to give everyone close to him a baseball-related nickname.

Alice was the “Umpire” or “Don Drysdale,” named for Carrillo’s favorite Dodger, while his father, Bill, was “the Coach.” Alicia is the “Manager” or “Yogi Berra,” in honor of the Hall of Fame catcher.

Laguna Beach High’s baseball field is named after Carrillo. The field is one of the sites under consideration for the statue.

Skipper Carrillo, center, seen here in 2016. Carrillo was a tireless volunteer for more than 30 years for the Laguna Beach High baseball team.
(File photo )
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Morgan has started building the framework for the statue, which will be placed on a marble base. Plaques telling Carrillo’s life story and honoring donors also are planned.

“Some things you do for the money,” said Morgan, who designs and builds art for homeowners and developers for his company Randy Morgan Collection. “Some things you do because it needs to be done.”

Laguna’s affinity for Carrillo was displayed Thursday when 100 people, including Laguna Beach High baseball players, attended a book signing at Laguna Beach Books, Leideritz said.

“I was not surprised to see how the community is behind this man,” Leideritz said. “For over 30 years he washed the teams’ uniforms, was a bat boy, a third-base umpire for Little League. He did whatever he could.

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“I’ve never heard an angry word come out of his mouth.”

Carrillo told the Los Angeles Times in 1990 that his physical challenges included problems with hearing, sight and coordination. Still, Carrillo shopped and cleaned for a neighbor.

Leideritz created a GoFundMe page for people who wish to donate toward the statue’s cost.

For information, contact the gallery at (949) 371-3313, or email Leideritz at ludo@forestoceangallery.com.

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bryce.alderton@latimes.com

Twitter: @AldertonBryce


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