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Will Ferrell for Sports Illustrated

Posted on March 18, 2015

When I arrived at spring training in late February I never would have guessed that my most memorable Cactus League assignment of 2015 for Sports Illustrated would be chasing actor Will Ferrell all over the Phoenix valley. Last week Ferrell attempted to play nine different positions for ten teams in five ballparks for an upcoming HBO special dedicated to fighting cancer, and I was right there with him, for almost every step of the way.

Will Ferrell of the Oakland Athletics does a television interview before a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

I plotted out my game plan with my skipper Nate Gordon at the magazine. Ferrell’s games were starting at various staggered times beginning at 12:05pm in Mesa. Next up would be games in Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale, and Peoria. Ferrell and his crew would have the benefit of helicopters and police escorts. All I had was my trusty 2005 Honda Pilot with 205,000 miles on it There was no way I could hit all five parks. I would have to miss game three at Talking Stick, where Ferrell would be suiting up for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds. But first, I had to get up early and be at the new home of the Oakland A’s, HoHoKam Park in Mesa, where Ferrell was due to arrive sometime around 8am.

Will Ferrell of the Oakland Athletics stretches before a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Oakland Athletics stretches before a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Oakland Athletics jokes with teammates about using chewing tobacco before a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Oakland Athletics talks with Campy Campaneris before a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Oakland Athletics talks with teammate Ben Zobrist before a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Oakland Athletics takes batting practice before a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Aside from dealing with the HBO crew, which seemed to number in the hundreds (kidding), photographing Ferrell was a blast. Being an actor and comedian he knows how to play to the crowd, so photographing him as he moved around the field before the game in Mesa resulted in several nice pictures. Once the game started Ferrell was penciled into the A’s starting lineup at shortstop, which could have been amazing for pictures- but no balls were hit to him!

Will Ferrell of the Oakland Athletics takes the field with his teammates before a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Oakland Athletics shakes hands with umpire Ted Barrett before a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Oakland Athletics drops the catchers throw down to second base before a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Oakland Athletics is cheered on by his teammates in the dugout during a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Oakland Athletics plays defense at shortstop during a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

After his stint with the A’s Ferrell walked across the field and joined the visiting Seattle Mariners in time to take the field with them at second base in the bottom of the second inning. Once again I was pretty fired up for a chance to make some good pictures- but no! Not one ball was hit to him.

Will Ferrell of the Seattle Mariners shakes hands with teammate Jesus Montero during a spring training game against the Oakland Athletics at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Seattle Mariners warms up at second base during a spring training game against the Oakland Athletics at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Seattle Mariners pumps his fist during a spring training game against the Oakland Athletics at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

After the second inning Ferrell’s first game was over, so it was time to bail and fight the traffic into Tempe Diablo Stadium for Game two featuring the visiting Chicago Cubs and home standing Los Angeles Angels. When I arrived inside the park the photo wells were jammed- and that was before the large contingent from HBO had arrived. I decided to mix things up and shoot from overhead. Glad I did!

Will Ferrell of the Los Angeles Angels walks onto the field during the spring training game against the Chicago Cubs on March 12, 2015 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Los Angeles Angels cheers on his teammates during the spring training game against the Chicago Cubs on March 12, 2015 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Los Angeles Angels tips his cap to the fans in center field during the spring training game against the Chicago Cubs on March 12, 2015 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Ferrell played an inning in center field for the Angels before he switched dugouts and started coaching third base for the Cubs. This is when the fans really got their money’s worth, and I got some of my favorite pictures. The fans went buts watching Ferrell’s antics on the field, and the Cubs scored a bunch of runs for their lucky charm in the coach’s box.

Will Ferrell of the Chicago Cubs coaches third base during the spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels on March 12, 2015 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Chicago Cubs celebrates while coaching third base after Jorge Soler hit a home run during the spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels on March 12, 2015 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Chicago Cubs celebrates while coaching third base after Jorge Soler hit a home run during the spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels on March 12, 2015 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Chicago Cubs celebrates while coaching third base after Jorge Soler hit a home run during the spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels on March 12, 2015 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Chicago Cubs lectures Addison Russell while coaching third base during the spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels on March 12, 2015 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Chicago Cubs lectures Addison Russell while coaching third base during the spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels on March 12, 2015 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Chicago Cubs coaches third base during the spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels on March 12, 2015 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Chicago Cubs bats during the spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels on March 12, 2015 at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

After game two in Tempe Ferrell and the HBO crew went to Talking Stick in Scottsdale for game three while I headed west to Glendale for game four. I knew that traffic would be a nightmare on the 101 loop at commute time for the crew heading to Glendale a few hours later, but they had a police escort and Ferrell had a helicopter. I had neither, so I took my time and got to Camelback Ranch in the first inning of the 4:05pm game between the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox. The plan here was for Ferrell to be a land in a helicopter in centerfield in full White Sox uniform, be a designated hitter for them, then catch for the Giants. Instead we got several hours of nervous producers cursing traffic as Ferrell did not arrive until the bottom of the 9th inning. What a nightmare! Luckily for everyone involved the plan worked, and the fans who stayed enjoyed the antics.

Will Ferrell of the Chicago White Sox lands in centerfield in a helicopter during a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Camelback Ranch on March 12, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Chicago White Sox bats during a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Camelback Ranch on March 12, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Chicago White Sox bats during a spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Camelback Ranch on March 12, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the San Francisco Giants calls for an intentional walk from the catcher position during a spring training game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch on March 12, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the San Francisco Giants chases a ball to the backstop during a spring training game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch on March 12, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the San Francisco Giants argues with manager Bruce Bochy after he was removed from a spring training game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch on March 12, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

By the time Ferrell was removed from the game as the Giants catcher by manager Bruce Bochy my long day was almost over. It was now almost 7:30pm and I had to get out of Camelback Ranch and head about 15 minutes north up the 101 loop to Peoria for game five between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. This is a game I was really looking forward to because Ferrell was going to pitch for the Dodgers. I knew this would be great for pictures. I was determined to grab a seat in the stands behind the plate so I could shoot him head on with a Padres batter in the foreground to show that he was pitching in an actual game.

Will Ferrell of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during a spring training game against the San Diego Padres at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during a spring training game against the San Diego Padres at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during a spring training game against the San Diego Padres at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after manager Don Mattingly comes out of the dugout to remove him from the game during a spring training game against the San Diego Padres at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after manager Don Mattingly comes out of the dugout to remove him from the game during a spring training game against the San Diego Padres at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after manager Don Mattingly comes out of the dugout to remove him from the game during a spring training game against the San Diego Padres at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Ferrell looked great on the mound. He is a real ballplayer and moves well. You can tell he played as a kid and is not a fraud. He had a real nice leg kick and looked the part- but he only got to throw one pitch! It was bunted back to him on the mound and he made a flawless play throwing the batter out at first base. Glad I got the frames I liked from the only pitch he threw! Next he suited up for the Padres in right field. Not much for pictures, but it was his last position for his last team, so I was glad to be there.

Will Ferrell of the San Diego Padres chases a ball in right field during a spring training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the San Diego Padres tips his cap to the fans during a spring training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Will Ferrell of the San Diego Padres salutes the crowd after playing nine positions for ten teams in one day at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona on March 12, 2015. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

By the time I finished sending my pictures to the magazine it was 1:30am. It had been a long day, but a fun one. An experience unlike any other I have had. Once I got over the fact that I had zero access and could not make any of the pictures I like in the dugout, etc. I did my best to shoot what I could with long lenses. The HBO special they shot won’t air for several months, but when it does I bet it will be very funny. I know I will be watching.

What Others Are Saying

  1. Kevin March 19, 2015 at 12:43 am

    Dude – you are a sports photography genius! Just one word to describe your work…….

    ——— Dude! ———–

    You so totally rock!

  2. Pingback: Will Ferrell for Sports Illustrated – by Brad Mangin | The Photo Brigade

  3. Brad Mangin March 21, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    Thanks so much for your kind words Kevin- it was a crazy fun day. I really appreciate you taking the time to look at my pictures.

    Brad

  4. Dan Olive June 10, 2015 at 12:10 am

    Hi Brad,
    You may not recall, but you and I met at La Costa about 1.5 years ago. I came across your card today and finally took the time to look at your work. Truly fabulous! Your photos alone must surely bring new fans to baseball on a regular basis. Thank you for sharing your unique vision of the game.
    Take care,
    Dan

  5. Brad Mangin June 17, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    Hi Dan- yes I remember you! Thanks for taking the time to look at my pictures. I appreciate you taking the time to drop by and say hello!

    Brad

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