Ray Barton, the longtime Midwestern advertising illustrator and cartoonist who created the Minnie and Paul figures that became the official logo for the Minnesota Twins franchise and a driving force in their licensing efforts, died on Sunday. He was 80 years old.
Barton famously drew the picture of the two baseball players, named after their representative Twin City, in 1961 for $15. It was a freelance job he had accepted for the Dixie cups to be used by the new baseball team. Team owner Calvin Griffith re-purposed the drawing much to Barton's dismay, although it wasn't so much the money that concerned the cartoonist -- or at least the obituaries don't dwell on that idea -- as the fact he didn't think much of the drawing.
Barton, who served in Korea, also worked on any number of high-profile advertising campaigns locally and regionally.
The Minnie and Paul drawing not only found a massive secondary life on all sorts of merchandise, the impact of the visual speaks to the role that sports franchises can play in communities: a focal point for nostalgia, or a sign of a city's emergence into national stature.
Ray Barton is survived by a wife, six children and 17 grandchildren.