The Giants know how to turn back the clock
Posted on June 5, 2012
Matt Cain #18 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the game at AT&T Park on Saturday, June 2, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)
The San Francisco Giants wrapped up a four-game sweep of the really awful Chicago Cubs yesterday afternoon. In winning all four games the Giants scored a total of 11 runs. I repeat- 11 runs in winning four games. What does that mean? The Giants can pitch, they can’t hit, and the Cubs suck. Highlighting the long weekend series was Saturday afternoon’s Turn Back The Century Game that saw the Giants and Cubs wearing uniforms from 1912. I love shooting these games with current teams wearing wacky old uniforms from the past. I relish the history of the game and enjoy seeing the old black and white pictures come to life. Over the years the Giants have done a nice job hosting these fun afternoons, dating back to the first great one they held in 1991. I thought it would be fun to look back on these special days through some images from my archive, because, of course, I have pictures from all of them!
I will never forget the first big turn back the clock game the Giants hosted at Candlestick Park in June of 1991. My dream staff job at The national Sports Daily had ended just a week earlier when we abruptly went out of business. I really wanted to shoot this game for myself so I headed to the Stick on an overcast Sunday armed with 20 rolls or Kodachrome in search of some special pictures.
The Giants were playing the Cubs and the home squad was turning back the clock to 1925. Not only was the team wearing specially made uniforms of the New York Giants from that year, but most Giants employees and front office staff were also participating. The first thing I remember about arriving early that morning and entering the park through the tunnel down the right field line was seeing my friend and Giants team photographer Martha Jane Stanton. Martha was dressed for the part toting an old twin-lens Rollieflex. I immediately posed her with skipper Roger Craig and took the fun picture you see above.
I positioned myself at third base before the game started and was in a good position to photograph Giants great Matt Williams as he did his Babe Ruth impression with a pillow stuffed under his jersey. Matt entertained the crowd by hitting like the Babe in the batter’s box in fast motion like everyone was watching an old film from the 1920′s. He then rounded the bases to the joy of everyone in attendance.
The Cubs did not participate in the fun as they wore their normal road grey uniforms, so I concentrated all my efforts in shooting the Giants. The overcast light was beautiful to shoot under and I had a blast making pictures.
Giants right hander John Burkett was on the mound that day and he looked great in the old uni. The Giants turned off the public address system, and they also turned off their scoreboard. They erected an old-time wooden, hand-operated scoreboard in center field to keep track of the game, and I knew I had to get a good picture putting that scoreboard in context with the game. Because Candlestick was such a great place to shoot I went behind the plate for an inning and shot Burkett pitching with the scoreboard looming behind him (see above).
I had so much fun editing through my Kodachrome a few days later after it was all processed at The New Lab in San Francisco. It cost me a small fortune- but it was well worth it! The game was such a success I was hoping they would do it again in the future, and my dreams were answered when they hosted another tun back the clock game in 1992 against the Phillies. The theme was the World War II years when the New York Giants switched their colors to red, white, and blue. Once again I headed to the park early so I wouldn’t miss anything on that Sunday afternoon.
This time the harsh sun was shining so it was much more difficult to make the pictures look pretty, but I tried my best. Once again everyone from general manager Al Rosen to equipment manager Mike Murphy dressed for the occasion, making the pre-game activities fun to shoot.
Matt Williams was a highlight as his personality and looks made him a perfect guy to be wearing an old uniform. The old Giants dugouts were small and provided a soft, warm light to make portraits in, thanks to the orange-colored walls (see above).
The best game pictures happened around home plate late in the game as the batters always became very pretty and back-lit from first base after 3pm at Candlestick (see above). I shot the entire game from first base and even wore the red, white, and blue New York Giants cap to celebrate the occasion, as you can see in the picture of Giants team photographer Martha Jane Stanton and myself on this special 1992 day below.
Since 1992 the Giants have hosted a few other turn back the clock days, including an exhibition game in 1994 against the A’s when both teams celebrated the Pacific Coast League by wearing uniforms of the past from the San Francisco Seals and Oakland Oaks. However, it wasn’t til this year that they decided to go all out and do it again. Times are not as innocent as they were 20 years ago. The park is fancy and new and every game is sold out. The dugouts are big and have a fence in front of them, making it harder to shoot pre-game features. There certainly isn’t anyone like Matt Williams to entertain the crowd before the game!
Luckily the Giants had Matt Cain on the hill, guaranteeing good pictures of an old-school looking guy wearing a uniform that fit him well. I hated that the Giants did not create plain blue batting helmets to go better with the classic old unis, so I really tried to get a few good frames of them on defense like you see above.
One of the Giants who really seemed to get the fun of the whole event was second baseman Ryan Theriot. Theriot donned the old school eye black and even colored his modern spikes by hand to make them entirely black (see above). I shot this game from all over the park, trying to get as many different angles as possible. It was a fun game, especially since the Giants won!
As I reflect back on these three games I have shot over the past 21 years the changes in technology and the way I shoot are remarkable. I shot the first game on a film that no longer exists, and I shot my favorite picture on Saturday night with my iPhone (see above)! I hope you enjoyed this stroll down memory lane. It has been fun for me!