Photo courtesy of Jeremy Raymer.

Artist Jeremy Raymer just hit a home run with his latest work.

On Friday, he put the finishing touches on a two-and-a-half story Roberto Clemente mural.

Work in progress. Image courtesy of Jeremy Raymer.

Now adorning the building that houses Verdetto’s Bar & Restaurant on the North Side, the striking image of the beloved Pittsburgh Pirate is causing traffic slowdowns along 579 North.

Business owner Lenny Verdetto couldn’t be happier and says he plans to celebrate with drink or food specials honoring the legendary right fielder, who played 18 seasons with the Buccos until his tragic death.

Raymer’s ode to No. 21 isn’t his first large-scale masterpiece.

Over the past five years, he’s painted more than 60 murals in 16 local neighborhoods, including a Sasquatch in Deutschtown, an eagle in Braddock, a wasp in Freeport and a donut-happy Homer Simpson in Lawrenceville.

The Clemente mural completes a Pittsburgh sports star trifecta: Three years ago, Raymer did portraits of Penguin Sidney Crosby and Steeler Troy Polamalu on the doors of a Penn Avenue business.

Raymer’s next project is a series of hand-painted billboards advertising the athletics program at the University of Pittsburgh, his alma mater. He graduated from the school with a degree in biomechanical engineering. In 2016, he left a successful career at Westinghouse to pursue his artistic dreams full-time.

Through hard work and diligence, he says, those dreams have literally become larger than life.

“Projects come about in all sorts of ways,” says Raymer, who invested about 40 hours into the Clemente project. “I’m always riding my bike around looking for wall space.”

By chance, the Uptown resident met the Verdettos through a mutual friend. Upon visiting the bar, he noticed that the structure was basically a huge, blank canvas with high visibility.

The fact that the owners were long-time Pirates fans sealed the deal.

They also had a personal history with the Hall of Famer. In 1969, original proprietors Len and Pat Verdetto — who opened the bar in 1985 — met Clemente and his wife in the Strip District.

Best wishes and an autograph from Clemente himself. Image courtesy of Lenny Verdetto.

He jotted his autograph on the slip of paper you see above, a piece of memorabilia the couple still cherish.

Raymer believes his work will be just as enduring as the Verdettos’ passion for baseball. Thanks to the highly durable spray paint he uses, even some of his earliest outdoor creations still look as fresh as the day he finished them. That’s likely to bring a lot of happiness to Bucs fans for generations to come.

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.