“Baseball is a game where a curve is an optical illusion, a screwball can be a pitch or a person, stealing is legal and you can spit anywhere you like except in the umpire's eye or on the ball.”
- Jim Murray
For 3 months of the year I get to be part of professional baseball. I am the photographer for the Eugene Emeralds here in Eugene. The Ems are the minor league single A short season affiliate for the San Diego Padres.
Photographically it's a pure joy. Socially... I get to hang out with jocks. And I'm grinning as I say that. I play sports (or at least used to) - softball, football and basketball. I ran track and cross-country in High School. Not well, but I liked running and what better way than competing at it and working out on a regular schedule to get to do it. I know my competitive lack of success came not from lack of ability but from lack of application. I didn't take it serious and I didn't care that I didn't take it serious. My gawd! I was a teenager in southern California, there were girls, beer and rock and roll. And tackle football on the weekends...
But these guys... this is serious stuff for them. With enough hustle, skill and a few strokes of luck any one of 'em could make millions of dollars a year and have a place in the limelight.
And really, seriously... as political as I am, as much as I dislike pro sports and the overpriced entertainment industry sports has become, at the pro level these guys are still just playing ball. I'd sure play a game with a stick and a ball and lots (sometimes) of running, for money. Besides, the game may be played by them, but they are watched by us. Because we want to. We like going out to an evening baseball game, sitting in the stands and watching not just the game, but each other. And the kids?
It's magic for them... it's peanuts and hot dogs and crowd roars and the beer guy "COLD beeeer herE! Getcher cold beer!" It's action, it's other kids, pennants and ice cream and color. It's autographs and uniforms and the cracking of bats... and lots of people. It's bugs lit up up as they fly under the stadium lights and foul balls and bigger kids with mitts running to get a ball hit into the parking lot...
For me, as the Ems' photographer, it is a pallette of color and motion and emotion. It's focused intensity...
and occasionally there is a visual twist
And there is always the ongoing teaching. The young guys listening to their manager and coaches. And if they listen well, they will learn what they need to know. This is no different than any aspect of society... the handing off of information, the sharing of knowledge because certainly, this is a game of skill. And those who demonstrate the best skills, will be rewarded.
I'm a fan of the Ems. I'm a part of the Ems and images like these are what they have me there to do. How cool is that? If you like baseball please visit my Emeralds' blog:
Eugene Emeralds - baseball photography
“Baseball is almost the only orderly thing in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can't get you off.”
- Bill Veeck