George Springer brings hope to Houston
Posted on April 21, 2014
Instagram of George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros sitting in the dugout before the game against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on Saturday, April 19, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)
I spent my weekend shooting two day baseball games in Oakland under glorious Bay Area sunshine as the Oakland A’s hosted the Houston Astros. Besides having the great opportunity to shoot the game I love in awesome weather there was something special about this weekend for me. I was able to photograph recent minor league call up and huge Astros prospect George Springer for the first time.
Springer was called up last week and made his big league debut in Houston on April 16, 2014. I was super excited when I heard this news, knowing that Springer would be coming to town to play the A’s this past weekend. Shooting a top prospect during their early days in the majors is always exciting. Springer is an outfielder with all five tools, and he was immediately put into the cleanup spot in the Astros batting order!
Before I went out to shoot Springer on Saturday morning I did my best to watch a few highlights of him and check out some wire pictures online so I could see what his swing looked like. I needed to know as much as I could about him, especially since the Astros have spring training in Florida. I see most of the young kids who train in Arizona every year, but Springer was a mystery in front of my camera.
I got to the park early on Saturday morning and was off to a great start shooting Springer as the Astros came out for batting practice and began stretching at 11:10am. More and more teams skip outdoor batting practice before day games, opting to hit in the inside cages instead. Whenever a team does hit outside it is a huge bonus, allowing me more opportunities to shoot features of the players.
Shooting the visiting teams getting ready before a game in the first base dugout in Oakland is one of my favorite things to do. Some teams are looser than others. The young Astros club and Springer gave me so many fun photo opportunities before Saturday’s game. It was awesome! If you look at some of the pictures above you will see what I mean. Anytime I can get stuff like this before a 1:05pm first pitch I don’t even care what I get during the game.
Of course once the game starts my focus turns to trying to get a some good stuff of the kid doing what he does best- playing the game. Springer takes a vicious cut from the right side of the plate and he can run like the wind. By the time Sunday’s game ended around 4pm I was pretty happy with the set of pictures I had made of him over the weekend.
Over the next several weeks I will be keeping an eye on the Astros box scores to see how Springer performs during his first trip around the American League. I look forward to shooting him and the rest of his teammates when they come back to Oakland at the end of July. The next guy I am looking forward to shooting in the Astros orange as he breaks into the bigs is former Stanford hurler and #1 draft pick from last year Mark Appel. I photographed Appel for Sports Illustrated last season when he was a senior on The Farm, so I am really looking forward to shooting him in the majors. Photographing young kids like Springer and Appel is one of the best parts of my job.
As Wooderson said in Dazed and Confused, “I get older, they stay the same age.”