Five years ago I had gone back to school and was working on my art/photography degree. I was taking yet another black and white photography class and for my final project I had to shoot a series of photos and then mat them all to present in class. I could choose any theme I wanted to, although when youâ€™re taking fine art photography classes, you tend to see a lot of people going for projects with deep and profound meanings. I decided to take a chance and shoot, what else, baseball. I brought up the idea with my professor, fully expecting him to tell me to try another idea, only to have him completely love my project. â€œShoot what you love,â€ he said. â€œWhen you shoot what you love, it shows in your photos.â€
I loaded up my camera bag with over ten rolls of film, went to a Giants game, and took photos all day. The pitcher that day? Barry Zito, of course. Iâ€™m pretty sure he started just about every game I attended from 2007 through 2009 when I started counting out the rotation ahead of time so I could see different pitchers, because as you well know, The Barry Zito Experience wasnâ€™t necessarily fun to watch in person.
I presented my project in class and it ended up going over a whole lot better than I expected. â€œI donâ€™t really like baseball, but I really love your photos,â€ was something I got used to hearing whenever I presented my photos at critiques. I didnâ€™t intend to keep using baseball as my subject for projects, but when I took another class with this same professor the next spring, when it came time to put together a final project, his first comment to me was, â€œYouâ€™re going to shoot baseball again, right? The season just started. You have take more photos.â€ Well, if you insist.
In 2009, for the final project in one of my last photography classes, we had to put together some of our work in a book. By this point, Iâ€™d accumulated quite a portfolio full of baseball photos. It seemed like a no-brainer to put them together in a book. I stumbled across the book last week. Itâ€™s about 96% photos with the only text on the front page, an intro of sorts that ends with the following:
At the time when I wrote it, the Giants were â€¦ not so great. They had finished 72-90 the year before. I was hoping for a more respectable season that year. As a Giants fan for almost my entire life, Iâ€™d learned to not expect nice things. Other teams could have nice things. Winning the World Series seemed like something that Iâ€™d be lucky to see â€¦ someday. Maybe. After getting my heart ripped out and stomped on a few thousand times. In the meantime, we could enjoy Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain and Pablo Sandoval. And there was some guy named Buster Posey coming along who could be pretty awesome. Maybe.
But the Giants won the World Series the very next year. It was amazing and completely unexpected and awesome. I went to the parade and savored every moment, because I knew there was a very real chance that it might never happen again. Yet here we are two years later. The Giants have won the World Series again. Itâ€™s been almost two weeks since it happened. I went to the parade, and I kind of still donâ€™t believe it actually happened. Not when the Giants were down 2-0 in the NLDS, having to win three in a row in Cincinnati. Not when the Giants were down 3-1 in the NLCS, having to win three in a row to beat the Cardinals. But they did it. This awesome, amazing, fun, sunflower-seed-throwing, never-say-die team did it. And then they stomped all over the Tigers and swept the World Series. And that guy in those photos that I took for my photography project all those years ago, was a huge part of getting the Giants to the World Series. Barry Zito pitched the game of his life against the Cardinals. Barry Zito beat Justin Verlander in the World Series.
Let me repeat that. Barry Zito beat Justin Verlander in the World Series.
Yeah, thatâ€™s still an amazing sentence. When I took those photos, I never would have guessed that that would happen. When I wrote that intro to my little photo book, I never would have guessed that the Giants would win two World Series in three years. This is the kind of stuff that dreamed of when I was a kid, back when I spent a summer writing letters to each and every player on the Giants (on my best pink stationery, signed â€œyour friend, Saraâ€) along with baseball cards for them to autograph and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to mail it back. With every card that I got back, I fell in love with the Giants just a little bit more.
And now, years later, the Giants have won the World Series twice in three years. Holy crap, weâ€™re lucky.
But you probably came here for the parade photos, didnâ€™t you?
Thanks for the incredibly fun ride this season, Giants. If I still had that awesome pink stationery, I’d write you all notes of my love and appreciation. Hopefully this blog post with one zillion photos (if I crashed your browser, I’m sorry, but not really sorry) will do. Let’s do this again soon. It was fun.