Torii Hunter's Legs Have Gone Mythic, Becoming Sports Icons

October 14, 2013, 2:21 PM

The Boston Globe splashes its photographer's eye-catching image across much of Page One.

Images of Torri Hunter flying over the right field wall in Fenway Park Sunday night have struck a chord across America.

Hunter was chasing David Ortiz's grand-slam home run in the eighth inning that tied the Tigers-Red Sox playoff game, 5-5.

"The Iconic Image of This Year's MLB Playoffs Is Of an Outfielder's Legs," proclaims a headline on

Josh Voohees writes:

The thrill of victory means little without the agony of defeat. And for that, the baseball gods give us Torii Hunter, the Tigers outfielder with more than a few superhuman, home run-robbing catches on his resume. Or, more specifically, they give us Torii Hunter's legs, flipped over his head, spread to the sides in the emotional inverse of the victory pose of the Boston faithful.

On SB nation, Steve Goldman makes a connection with a 16th Century painting that memorialized a classic myth.

(We report; you decide)

Most of you probably know the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus. The father and son pair attempt to escape from imprisonment on Crete by means of wings made out of feathers and wax. The wings work, but Icarus is so taken with the freedom of flight that he ignores his father's warnings and flies too close to the sun. The wax melts and Icarus plummets to his doom. The lesson is obvious: If you ever get wings made of wax and feathers, only use them on cloudy days. This cautionary tale undoubtedly saved many an unwary Greek child from taking his or her wax wings out on days with minimal cloud cover and suffering serious injury.

Flash forward to the 1550s. Flemish master painter Peter Bruegel came up with a clever take on the myth in his Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. 

Rather than make Icarus's fall the tragic-heroic center of the painting, he stuck it off to the side, where the boy's plunge into the water is scarcely noticed by the various other denizens of the countryside. The story of the boy who flew is ended, but the living must go on with the mundane tasks that allow for survival. Note his legs visible above the water, like Hunter's above the fence.

"We've seen clutch playoff homers before. I don't think I've ever seen anyone flip over a wall at full speed effort quite like Torii Hunter," comments David Zirin, sports editor for The Nation magazine.

And at Deadspin, a headline calls it "the sports photo of the year."

Read more:  Slate

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