Just thinking this Christmas Morning 2009, what I would say if I was asked the best baseball game/event that I have ever seen. A new book is coming out "Baseball's Bucket List - 162 Baseball Things to do Before You Die." (disclaimer: I do have photos in it..)(disclaimer2: and at least 14 other books, 3 coming out this spring...) and lists already being an almost passe craze. Hey, there is no passe craze - you is passe or you ain't...If bucket lists are appearing, then lists must be a passe as Facebook for hip people.
The part of me that swallows the history of the game like plates of home cooking would say seeing Pumpsie Green chatting with Minnie Minoso right in front of me as a kid in 1962. As a photographer and one who has had a lot of access to many on field situations, I would say being the only shooter on the field while Bronson Arroyo threw a perfect game for the PawSox in 2003 would count. I remember that he covered the first base bag for the last out and me standing right there thinking, "I hope I don't get in the way..." The romantic in me would have to admit that I have always wanted to ask someone to go to the World Series with me. Not having many chances for many years, I finally got to do so in 2007....."Hey, Amy..."
Timi Yuro's "The Big Hurt" could be the soundtrack. As happens every year, baseball disappears into scraps of "new" about who might go where and money deals being suggested that are so beyond a two dollar bleacher seat boys grasp of the world. Every winter, I wrestle with, "Am I done with this..??" and the Grim Reaper swings the scythe that much closer to my camera hand. Hitting the highway for twenty years, shooting because it makes me happy. As my friend, Bill R, remarked, "What else are you going to do?"
I went to the final game of the ALDS with my pal, Mickey. he and I are veteran Sox watcher/chronic complainers since we crossed paths in 1970. The game seemed to bring back the old little expensive engine that could...err...should theory. If they won this, then won two more...then...then... However, these were not the Pink Hat Red Sox of 2004. These guys hearkened back to all the teams I had witnessed before that.....going back as far as my memory serves to the 50s...and as far as my game viewing had gone as early as 1962. 67,75,78,86,90,91,93......look out, there is a new dud in town.
That second season starts for The Sox on Thursday in Anaheim. Depending on football, the time of the first Fenway game on Sunday hasn't been decided yet. I did had a moment of jubilation when the Sox made it but the odds against The World Series being in front of my eyes seem about as thin as the ham in a sandwich at Fenway. Right now, I am just happy that I get to see one more baseball game before hanging up my camera bag for the weekend. The "Baseball Faces" exhibit will be hitting the road next summer with me in tow. A self published book is in the works. Posters, postcards...and a mascot uniform for me are in various stages of production. Good Lord, children..
The number of times I have posted here has dropped off drastically. Methinks it might have to do with playing on Facebook but boredom has set in with that, too...so...here I am Moe. This blog shout off the counter at 1600, so I am left with the feeling that I am preaching to the already converted: myself. Now that Facebook has been piled on by older people, I have found that a lot of it marks the departure of my friends into geezerdom, premature or not. There are terrific blogs getting posted, side splitting videos but the majority of it seems to be the "I am cooking dinner" type of post. No problem with that, it is just that my interests lie elsewhere..I work with professors that feel themselves accomplished because their books have sold 500 copies. Really. This, again, is fine, but no cause for entitlement. Pop culture is so fragmented that nobody succeeds anymore on a grand scale. If the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom, the castle has become very, very tiny.
The Boston Globe is reporting the financial troubles of the Brockton Rox, the indie league team in the "City of Champions," Brockton, MA. Minor League teams are not a stable commodity and we local New Englanders are spoiled by the bedrock teams like the Portland Sea Dogs and the Pawtucket Red Sox. While a pleasant, if bland place to watch a b'ball game, I am sure that when the dollar began wilting, the allure of buying a hot dog with a ten dollar bill wrapped around it became less of a draw. I was quite surprised to see a booth to buy lottery tickets at the park. A friend who grew up in Brockton told me the best advice when you are there is not to look anyone in the eyes, just charming for a photographer....The departure of "Singing Ed Nottle, the manager and storied vocalist must have had an impact as well.
In some sort of paradox, "Baseball Faces," the exhibit at Panopticon Gallery that bears my name ends Wednesday, the Ninth of September, the same day as the Beatles catalogue that has been remastered, is being released on CD. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. A pal gave me some studio speakers that I don't even use because they are so powerful. I intend to hook them up and blare "Taxman" and a few others through them....
The Kennedys have been part of my life since I was nine. My sense of noblesse oblige was formed from a caring grandfather, a child's meager understanding of the New Deal and the actions of the Kennedy family. Jack's election, a fellow Irish Catholic from a shared hometown of Brookline, MA at my age of nine and his murder at my age of eleven, followed by Teddy's term in the Senate, Bobby's presidential run and subsequent murder, had a lot of bearing on what I was to adopt as my own political views. No matter what shenanigans Teddy pulled in his life, I was able to ignore them because he was the only chance America had of adopting a national health care possibly. The Clinton's failed terribly at making it a reality, Obama is skirting failure with the same.the same. Had Teddy been elected president, he would have four or possibly eight years to establish his goals. By having stayed as a Senator, he had so many more years to work his programs through to completion. His death is affecting me far more than I thought. There have been only nine years of my life when I have not been represented by a Kennedy. The booming voice...the loud laughter, the dominating presence; yeah, I have those too and guess where they came from...
Hot, humid....the day after a horrible beating at the hands of the Yankees...and I am off to my grandstand seats of twenty three years. After the Sox finally won the whole damn thing, my interest in them has waned precipitously. I was there...and now there is no there....there...Twice in my life have I had Sox press passes. Once in 1996, when a woman made a mistake and granted me one for ten games (this explains young Jeter) and once for the 2004 season. Who knew at lunch with Charles Steinburg in March of 2004, I would have all season access to Fenway. I still keep the cramped Section 24 grandstand seats that I have had so long, well, because..there are people out there that the Sox matter to and I supply them when I can.
Yup, throwing in the towel? I am. How can you expect to compete with a team that spent $420 million on three players and we counter with Smoltz and Penny.....Some days, you eat the bear and some days the bear eats you. It almost seems that the knew Yankee Stadium was the last nail in my coffin of ignoring the majors. The qualities of the minor league parks are being replaced with mini-HOK spots. The last major release of CDs (the remastered Beatles) are the death knell for that recording medium. My film cameras are falling apart...Bitter? No, just amused....
Eric Porter hit his first Sox game last Thursday. The Bud Pavillion was dripping with celebs that day and a congenial Ben Afleck posed with Eric and his mom. It struck us as odd tht Afleck commented to Amy that Eric was entirely too young to be brought to a baseball game. I guess you can add child psychologist to his many titles. I eagerly look forward to "Daredevil 2" which will probably will make even less at the box office than our seats cost.
Amy Porter joins Bill Chapman at the opening for "Baseball Faces" at the Panopticon Gallery in Boston. To say I was flattered by the size of the crowd would be an understatement. Everybody from a kindergarten chum to some of my most recent friends came to have a grog, shout "HAWG" and see some of the great photographs of Ernest Withers and Jose Luis Villegas. I had such fun, maybe I will have a closing as well.....
More shameless selfpromotion from your old pal, Baseball Bill! Panopticon, Thursday night. 5-7:30. Three baseball photographers. Latin America, the Negro Leagues and the North American Minors all shot by three (or at least two) noted and well published photographers. Come by and tell me two things that "BBB" stand for and win a prize! Have a grog, kiss a frog....jump up and down and then yell, "HAWG!"
In honor of the return of Nomar Garciaparra to Boston tonight, I post this picture of Eric Porter wearing a t-shirt that I shot the photo for in 1996. I was told it is an oddity because Nomar never smiles for photographs! This is in quite a contrast to Eric, who, for the most part, finds the world very amusing.
The Panopticon Gallery will present an exhibit entitles "Baseball Faces" with photographs by Jose Luis Villegas, Ernest Withers and your not so humble servant from July 1st,2009 until September 8th, 2009. Images from the Boston Public Library Archives will also be on display. There will be an opening on July 16th from 5PM until 7PM. Each photographer will display 14-20 images each. Putting the three of us together is an idea that I have had for many years and was finally given the chance to pull it off.Hope to see you there!
Birmingham is called "The Magic City." I have been sitting at Rickwood Field for the better parts of two days with the annual "Classic" and my reason to be here occupying tomorrow. Squint your eyes and a cavelcade of baseball history does a conga like through your field of vision.
Another trip to Rickwood. Old friends, old South......and a soggy day before the game. Sitting around in a motel, waiting for a ride to the annual and quite traditional lunch with David Brewer at the Rib-It-Up......Today, at least right now, it is pouring. Tomorrow, we can only hope for sun and enough of a break in the weather to let the old field drain a bit.
I just went to check to see if which teams were playing a one o'clock game today. Zippo. Zilch. The first MLB game on a Spring afternoon is at 3:40 - Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay. Slip sliding away are the days when baseball was the thing to do on a weekend afternoon. Many baseball executives and TV people are misreading the market. Anyone enjoy the rain delay of the Sox game the other night so that ESPN could get their game in?
Fenway Park is inviting and repulsive simultaneously. The wonder of a place I have been attending since 1962 with its parcel of history dragging behind it has an allure to me I can't escape. The gross and vile commercialization of it all, which I realize is part of the times we live in, precedes any entrance to the park and continues until the last note of "Dirty Water" buzzes in your ears. THe two dollar "Boston Baseball" is by far the best bargain at the park. (Disclaimer: I shoot for it and have for 18 years.) Yesterday, I did something that I never do, in that I went to a bar and watched the end of the Sox/Yankees game. Tonight, I venture to the bandbox...but no $4.75 hotdogs for me.
A 50 minute bus ride and I am at McCoy Stadium for Media Day. Looking at last years photos, it reinforces the fact that somebodies status in the Minors is never permanent. If any body knows what I can do with pictures of Brandon Moss and Craig Hanson...drop me a line.This photo from several years ago is Manny being $18,000 earring.
Can't say that I am born again but there is new grass on the field....I went to 30 consecutive Opening Days. 1976-2005. After watching the giving of the World Series rings in 2005 and appalled by the crass commercialism involving Fenway, I waved my PawSox hat and bid consecutive Opening Days adios...and rode off on a Bonanza bus for points unknown. Do I miss it? Not really....Tuesday will be Media Day in Pawtucket. It is almost 20 years that I have been hanging around there shooting. It is there that I honed my craft. All I ever wanted to be (after the astronaut years) was to be as close to baseball as possible. Ernest Withers once said to me, "I find no fault with your pictures of baseball." Oh yeah, that is Jeff Suppan, circa 1993
Love 'em or hate 'em.....he did waht he was rewarded to do......bring a World Series victory to Boston. x deuce. Never have I cared what a player said off of the field and if rascism still exists, it doesn't make it to the press....in that case I would change my ideas about someone. You say Bush fan? I say World Series ring.
My dear friend, Willie Lee, formerly of the KC Monarchs and Birmingham Black Barons, turned 74 yesterday. He is as kind and genuine a man as I have ever met. His story of being on the cusp of the Majors and praying that the Red Sox didn't pick him because of the racial climate in Boston at the time is chilling but not unusual for players of that era. He wound up in the Tigers system, got hurt and played softball in Canada for awhile. I hope to get his story on tape in Birmingham this Spring. My pal, Willie, driving around Birmingham in a big ass burgundy Mercury.So perfect.
No, not the meatloaf refrain...Of course, most Sox fans do love them forever...THere is nothing like trudging through the 162 game season. Every day is a different story. Not every day, I have the blues. If the Sox hadn't done it yet....twice...every day we would have the blues. I went to 30 consecutive Opening Days, 1976-2005 and after seeing the rings presented, I thought, that is it....I am done. I have always wanted to saY to someone, hey...do you want to go to the World Series, which is where this picture is from in 2007. Done that now, too....now, a Negro League tribute at Fenway...may I live that long.
Hiatus? Maybe....I have felt like a bull waiting to be released at a rodeo. Baseball is within shouting distance now....every winter I brood and sit around counting the days until my feet hit the concrete, then the gravel and then........the green, green grass around home...so far, I already have Salem, VA, Pawtucket, Portland, ME and Birmingham on my to do list....My book proposal is at an agent....my refrigerator has so many magnets from the (mostly) baseball cites I have been in, I am running out of room. Spell check tried to turn Pawtucket into Puckett...Kirby, anyone?
A photo from the next to last game at "The Old Boneyard" as my pal, Tunes and I have called it for years. It has been a cold and impersonal winter. The weather doesn't care who it inconveniences. We got heated up over Texiera and then got frozen out once more by the Spankees...I have been busy writing a proposal for my book.....yes, after 18 years on the baseball road, I am finally ready to join the overpopulated market of baseball books.....I look around the crowd at Fenway sometimes and wonder who would buy it. My answer is five people, and I would know four of them...
I haven't felt much like thinking about baseball this week. The kick in the fans groin known as A-Rod has taken its toll. I guess the choice is clear. You can go to the majors and see drug stuffed clowns or to the minors and see people stuffed into uniforms acting like clowns.
A friend remarked that at the Inauguration, "Aretha wasn't very good." Lets see, a 66 year old woman, after sitting in the cold for a couple of hours...and miracle of miracle, she actually sang her own vocals and didn't use backing tapes!" I thought it was fab to hear and see her and let it go at that. In this American Idol universe, no one sings live, no one plays live and for awhile there, not everyone hit home runs without enhancement. Since the Texas Rangers have never been a threat to most other teams, what joy-boy was doing in 2003 didn't cross my nose. Let he who is without sin throw out the first needle.
so many to prosecute...A-Rod joins the tainted. Of course, he didn't lie to a grand jury or Congress as the other lunkheads did...but it is still a shame. Is there nothing believable in Major League Baseball? I had hoped that A-Rod (or somebody) would break Bonds HR record so it could be reclaimed for the real people. With the economy is a death march, sports is a nice diversion. Now, instead of Spring Training chatter, A-Rod will dominate the news. I need baseball. It dominates my life for months. I go to games, I photograph it. I have friends all over the country. I revel in the Minors. Who sang that.."They Can't Take That Away From Me...?" Every so often, I announce I will chuck all of this stuff. To be honest, it is all I know.
Not a lot, mind you...but enough to make your chest heave and count the days until that you can see the green, green grass of home....It has been a long and slow winter. The NPR poofs seem to have stopped chanting "global warming" and have merely extolling "Slumdog Millionaire" which looks to be as much of a dud as year's "Little Miss Sunshine." For all of the synchophants that march behind Fox News and their broadcasts, there is something more zombie-like about the NPR crew...
Boston is getting quasi-clobbered with snow this winter. I say "quasi" because the news media sends everyone into a panic with three inches of snow due...when I was a boy.......we used to walk ten miles to school every day and on cold days, we had baked potatoes in our pockets to keep our hands warm. If our family was to poor to buy potatoes, we had hot bricks.
The summer before last, I shot some pictures of Lars Anderson, prospect of the future. Being a Brookline, MA native and having participated in many activities at Larz Anderson Park there, I asked him if he was related to the philanthropist that donated the park to the town. He was not and apologized for never having heard of him. Lars, the ballplayer, seems as highly touted as Nomah was...and that is an exciting thing.