Garden Party in San Francisco
Posted on July 11, 2014
A fan celebrates after catching a home run ball hit by Hunter Pence #8 of the San Francisco Giants into The Garden at AT&T Park, an edible garden behind the center field fence, during the game against the Oakland Athletics at AT&T Park on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos)
If you know anything about me you know that I shoot lots and lots of baseball games. I love photographing everything about the game. I love shooting details of the equipment. I love shooting the action. I love shooting the light. I love shooting moments in the dugout. Shooting the fans? Not so much.
For all of the reasons above many of my friends were shocked to see me on television a few nights ago during the A’s and Giants game in San Francisco on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. There I was, big as life in screaming high definition behind the center field fence shooting pictures of a crazed Giants fan wearing a Barry Bonds jersey after he caught a Hunter Pence home run ball in the edible garden at AT&T Park. The what? You heard me. The freaking GARDEN.
My phone started buzzing immediately. I got a text message from San Jose Mercury News photographer and one of my Giants season ticket partners Karl Mondon. “Hey! What r u doin in the garden? I thought u were a beef guy?!? U got good tv time, sir,” Mondon said.
My friend Stan Pechner sent me a text. “Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Nice seeing you on the tube,” Pechner said. Kate Scott from KNBR radio sent out this tweet: “And wouldn’t you know it, @bradmangin is right there to capture the fun. Hi Brad!
#Pence #BombsAway #SFGiants”
The tweets didn’t stop! They kept coming and coming. Most asking the same question I would hear over and over for days. “What in the Hell were you doing out in the garden in the middle of the game?” There had to be a reason, right? Well, there was. I was on assignment for Major League Baseball. The Garden at AT&T Park is a new addition to the yard and it has become a big story nationally, so MLB needed me to shoot some pictures of it.
My assignment was to shoot the garden before the game when there would be pretty late afternoon sunlight shining on all the greenery, then go back in the middle of the game to see what the scene looked like at night when there was action going on just on the other side of the center field fence. Little did we know there would be action on the garden side of the fence when I got there!
After shooting the garden before the game I went back to the field to shoot some fun pre-game stuff in the A’s dugout, followed by game action for a few innings. By the time the 4th inning rolled around I figured it would be a good time to head back out to center field before the sky got black. Shooting wide stadium stuff showing the garden with the dark, cloudy, blue sky would make for some nice pictures. Simple stuff, right?
Within a matter of a few moments of arriving in the garden I heard the loud crack of the bat and glanced at a large, HD television monitor hanging on the garden side of the center field fence. I could see that Pence had just hit a deep drive to center. I looked up into the sky and saw the ball coming right at us. In the garden. The same garden that Pence had helped introduce during a media event a few weeks ago.
The next few seconds are a blur. The home run ball came flying into the garden, dropping from the sky like it was all meant to be. That’s when a young man wearing a Bonds jersey and a Giants hat caught the ball and started going nuts. Right in front of me! What are the odds of the first-ever home run ball hit into the garden happening when I was right there? It was nutty.
I had the ultimate picture I thought. There would never be a better picture made in this garden. EVER. I got a fan screaming with a ball surrounded by kale under a painterly San Francisco sky. There was nothing else to shoot out there. My work in the garden was done. It was time to head back to the game and shoot what I really love shooting. Somehow, on this night however, I could care less about the action. Or the equipment. Or the light. I was all about the fans in the garden! I have now retired as a garden photographer. It will never get any better than it was two nights ago, thanks to Hunter Pence and #kalepower.