iPhone baseball for The Players’ Tribune on Opening Day
Posted on April 11, 2017
Jarrett Parker of the San Francisco Giants calls himself safe at home plate after scoring from first base on a ground ball back to the mound on a crazy play that resulted in three runs scoring against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the bottom of the 4th inning during their opening day game on April 10, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin for The Players’ Tribune)
Yesterday marked the 38th anniversary of John Tamargo’s pinch-hit walk-off home run on Opening Day in 1979 that lifted the San Francisco Giants to a dramatic 4-2 win over the visiting San Diego Padres. I was 14 years old attending the game with my dad up in section 10 of the upper reserved section behind the third base dugout at Candlestick Park on one of the most memorable days of my childhood. During the offseason the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department had torn out the rock-hard, faded, lime-green AstroTurf playing surface that the Giants had played on for nearly a decade and replaced it with real grass. This would be my first Giants game seeing what the old place looked like under conditions that would inspire a future marketing campaign: “Real grass, real sunshine, real baseball.”
Opening Day’s are always special, and yesterday’s tilt against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks was a big deal for me because I was shooting on assignment for my former great picture editor from Sports Illustrated, Nate Gordon, who is now the Director of Photography at The Players’ Tribune. Nate sent me out to make pictures with my iPhone the way I have been photographing golf for Caryn Levy and the PGA TOUR. Of course I had to get out there early to catch the sunrise and get some nice early pictures in the bank, seven hours before the 1:35 pm first pitch. With Opening Day excitement in the air that wasn’t too difficult.
My goal was pretty simple. Do a really tight edit throughout the day and send the finished files shot and processed on my iPhone 7 Plus to TPT staff photographer Sam Maller. Sam is a terrific young talent who spent much of his birthday coaching me on the phone so we could combine efforts on a fun Instagram Story that was published on The Players’ Tribune account at the end of the day. Take a look at some of my favorite iPhone pictures from the day.
By the time the game was over and the Giants had defeated the Diamondbacks 4-1 I was really excited about the stuff I shot throughout the day. I tried to tell a complete little story with a small amount of clean, tightly-edited pictures. No 35mm DSLR cameras for me on this day. Nothing but my iPhone and that was what made it all so special and fun. The challenge really gets me going, and when I got a nice frame of the biggest play of the game on a wacky error-riddled play that saw three runs score on a ground ball back to the mound I was all over the play at the plate when Giants base runner Jarrett Parker scored the third run of the play all the way from first base. Using the motor drive feature on my iPhone I shot a 32 frame sequence and got a few frames where the waves parted for me and I was not blocked from my low, inside first base spot looking right up the third base line. I was jacked up to see the frame I selected to send to Sam, and you can see it at the top of this blog post. Home plate action with a phone!
Of course throughout the day every time I saw an old school media friend who followed the Giants as a kid I just had to go up to him and remind him of the Tamargo anniversary. I was super excited when I told San Francisco Chronicle national baseball writer John Shea, who appeared somewhat amused. My great friend and legendary shooter from the Sacramento Bee, Jose Luis Villegas was much more into it when I told him after the game. How could he not be excited? Jose is one of the five people I know who actually read the best baseball book of the past decade, Fastball John.
The best part of Opening Day was the postgame. Carrying on a tradition that goes back what seems like decades, I ended the long day at the ballpark with dinner across the street at Momo’s with my dear friend Eric Risberg. After being at the yard for 11 hours it was fabulous to sit down with Eric, who has photographed more Opening Days for the Associated Press than I can imagine, and tell stories about the day. The fact that kept jumping out to the both of us was this- we could not believe this was the 18th Opening Day at AT&T Park. How could that be? What I do know is this. In two short years it will be the 40th anniversary of Tamargo’s historic homer off “Fastball” John D’Acquisto. They gotta bring him back to throw out the first pitch! See how baseball stories all connect?