Sunday, May 6, 2012

A "Might-Have-Been" Day

The following is an exchange that might have taken place if certain circumstances had not led to a different direction taken earlier in life.

My first day at The Daily Times, and I had the assignment of getting a photo of the game between the New Orleans Zephyrs and the Round Rock Express, Triple A affiliates of the Miami Marlins and Texas Rangers, respectively.

I was now heading back to talk to Old Phil Graybeard, grizzled (aren’t they all) editor of the sports page, about what I had shot.

“How’d you’re first assignment go?” he fired at me and without waiting for any answer followed up with “Let’s see what you have.”

“The Zephyrs lost, but there were some really exciting plays—a couple of diving catches, a near collision, a—.”

“Show me, show me! We go to press today,” he shouted with a wave of his hand.

“First of all, I was surprised to see this Cubs’ fan in the stands. He was sitting where the scouts usually sit, so we may have a trade in the making. If not, there may be a human interest story here—you find Cubs’ fans in every ballpark,” I ventured.

“Human interest, hrumph, get to the game,” he directed.

“Here’s the—

“The pre-game meeting with the umps and the man-agers!?”

“More than that. Look at the body language of the two coaches. Coach Damon Minor (right) is standing back and forcing Spike Owen, the Express coach (left), to stretch to reach him. You can see who the top dog is,” I offered, pleased with my observation.

“Body language” and some mutterings I couldn’t hear. “Photos. Photos.”

“Look at the contrast here. The umps going over last minute plans about…stuff, and the kids being given last minute preparations for singing the National Anthem,” I quickly explained, thinking that I had a different way of looking at the game preparations.

“Next—and fast!”

“The mascot. Boudreaux D. Nutria. How many teams have a nutria for a mascot? Great human interest, huh? Kind of like the Stanford University unofficial mascot—a tree,” thinking I was going to get a positive response.

Not so. Just a menacing stare.

Obviously, Graybeard was growing more and more impatient, but I thought I’d make one more attempt to present a different look at the game.

“How about the drama off the field that takes place between innings. I call this two-shot sequence:

and ‘Disap-pointment.’

Notice how the race parallels the emotions of a game,” I said; I was enthusias-tic.

Graybeard was not. “Did you actually see the game?” asked the man of few words.

“OK. Notice the tension in this shot. Bases loaded. Batter vs. pitcher. You just can’t look away,” was my attempt to sell the idea.

“I can. The game. Now.”

“Right. Here’s a shot of Tommy Mendonca getting the force out a third and throwing to first to complete a double play,” I said, grateful that Old Phil let me finish the sentence.

“Nice photo for his baseball card. Anything else?”

“How about this one? You can see the emotion on the catcher’s face as he chases this foul ball. Not bad, huh?” I could see Graybeard’s face showing an off-red color.

“Unless it’s a walk-off, I don’t need ‘emotion’,” growled Graybeard.
“I want action.”

“Well, here was a play at the plate that had some action,” hoping that this would get me out of the deep hole that I had dug for myself.

“Yeah. Too bad it wasn’t shot about half a second earlier” Graybeard sighed—at least I hoped it was just a sigh.

“I see you have one more. Want to take a chance and show me that?” the old editor challenged me.

“This woman retrieved a foul ball and shared her joy with a friend…,” I began.

“I know. Human Interest.” This time I was sure Phil sighed.

With that I was dismissed, but I thought I heard the following phone conversation of Phil’s as I was leaving.

“Say, Lulu, I think I have a photo you might want to use; by the way, do you have any openings in Features?”

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