The Rangers were colorful on Players Weekend
Posted on August 28, 2017
Rougned Odor #12 of the Texas Rangers walks to the on deck circle against the Oakland Athletics during the game at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday, August 26, 2017 in Oakland, California. Note: both teams are wearing special colorful uniforms for “Players Weekend” that also include nicknames on the backs of their jerseys. (Photo by Brad Mangin)
I am a baseball traditionalist, especially when it comes to uniforms. I love the Yankee pinstripes. The Dodger home whites are so classic and whiter-than-white that their equipment manager Mitch Poole gets letters from mothers asking what laundry detergent he uses to keep the uniforms looking so pristine. I am not a fan of the new togs that Major League Baseball has trotted out lately and made all the teams wear for entire weekends celebrating Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, and the 4th of July. For old school photographers like me these weekends of pink, blue, camo, and stars and stripes have wiped out four weekends off shooting.
This season in a joint effort between MLB and the Players Association the game started Players Weekend, which occurred over the past few days at every big league park that saw action. Players wore special and colorful hats and jerseys that were supposed to look more like kids uniforms. Nicknames were displayed on the uniform backs instead of last names. Special “Thank You” patches were worn on the right sleeve. They were allowed to wear colorful socks and shoes, and for the first time the stringent rules about no colored bats being allowed in game play were lifted.
News of this weekend broke months ago and when the uniforms were released on Twitter shortly thereafter I was not very enthused. Some were bright and colorful. Some were weird. Some were just plain ugly. None of them were classic. Looking ahead at our local schedule here in the Bay Area I saw that the Oakland A’s would be hosting the Texas Rangers for three games. I had no idea if I would be shooting any of the games or not.
Last week I realized that I was bored out of my mind, and for mental health reasons more than anything else I needed to go out to the ballpark in Oakland on Saturday afternoon to shoot that day’s game between the Rangers in A’s. Yes. I was going to shoot one of the Players Weekend games. The huge bummer about this game was that A’s team photographer and national treasure Michael Zagaris was out of town in Minneapolis with the San Francisco 49ers working for his other team. I would have to spend the entire 9 innings at the Coliseum without the Z-Man, which is never much fun.
In order to get through this day without Z I needed to embrace many things. I needed to enjoy the outdoors. I needed to enjoy the dog days of August. I needed to fall in love with these goofy uniforms! As soon as Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos sat in the dugout to prepare for the game at 12:30pm something clicked inside and I got very excited. The powder blue and red jerseys the Rangers were wearing just screamed to be photographed. The colors were so vibrant. The combination does not exist on any big league uniforms today. They immediately reminded me of the old school Chicago White Sox road uniforms from the early 1970’s when they wore powder blue uniforms with red trim.
This is when I decided I would do my best to try and document the Rangers in these wacky uniforms as best I could, showing off the different aspects of the garments they were wearing. The A’s were wearing dark green with yellow trim, a combination that was not nearly as photogenic as the Rangers. There was just something about this powder blue that photographed so well. As I shot more and more guys in the dugout before the game I kept looking at the images on the back of my camera to see how true to colors were recording.
It’s very hard getting motivated to shoot a baseball game this season. 2017 marks my 30th anniversary of photographing big league hardball and it has by far been my worst season. No one will pay me, or anyone else for that matter, real money to shoot a game anymore. Shooting for myself to create stock that has become worthless thanks to all the wire services who have been giving stuff away for years now has become a losing battle. Allowing my pictures to be used for free in blogs or for a nickel on a Photo File print is not my idea of fun.
However, I was able to have some fun on Saturday as I isolated spots of the uniforms and shot differently to highlight the patches or nicknames in the very harsh sunlight that I usually try and avoid. Exposing for the highlights and shooting like chrome is basically what I did for some of these pictures as I tried to showcase what was different about this game.
When I edited my take on Sunday I was pretty happy with the stuff I got, especially, as usual, with the pregame dugout pictures. The Coliseum dugouts are simply amazing and you can’t beat the access I get there. I hope you enjoy my look at Players Weekend. I won’t cry if it never happens again, but I think it was a pretty big success. It will definitely be back in 2018. If the colors are bright and fun I just might have to go back out and do this again next year. It would be amazing if someone would actually pay me!