Pho­tog lives dream

Makes trek from Alaska to Seat­tle to get snaps of Grif­fey in­duc­tion

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - SPORTS BASEBALL - By Hall An­der­son

KETCHIKAN, Alaska — The an­tic­i­pa­tion was pal­pa­ble ear­lier this month when my wife, Terri, and I ar­rived at Seat­tle’s Safeco Sta­dium — hours early — to see hun­dreds of peo­ple al­ready lined up at the gates for the ball game.

It was only 2: 30 p. m. Many of the fans were wear­ing Ken Grif­fey Jr. shirts and jer­seys in hon­our of his in­duc­tion to the Mariners Hall of Fame later in the day.

It was an ex­cit­ing day for a small- town news­pa­per pho­tog­ra­pher about to of­fi­cially pho­to­graph one of his first big league games as well as one of his base­ball heroes. I had se­cured a press cre­den­tial from the Seat­tle Mariners al­low­ing me to be on Safeco Field for the Ken Grif­fey Jr. Hall of Fame cer­e­mony. As a Mariners fan, I have taken many a snap­shot over the years from the vast sea of sta­dium seats, but never have had a field pass for such a spe­cial oc­ca­sion.

Af­ter park­ing across the street from the ball­park on Edgar Martinez Drive, I hus­tled to the sta­dium to get my press pass which qual­i­fied for free park­ing. In my fran­tic state, I couldn’t find my wallet which had my ID, nor the $ 50 I had re­trieved to pay the park­ing at­ten­dant. Af­ter telling my­self to set­tle down, I found a friendly traf­fic at­ten­dant who pulled my wallet out of his jacket. He had found it on the street where I dropped it. Whew! I fi­nally got my press pass, walked back to the garage and showed it to an­other park­ing at­ten­dant so we could get free park­ing and save $ 35 ( an ap­par­ent bonus for mem­bers of the press). Af­ter park­ing our car, serendip­ity pre­vailed and I found my $ 50 on the car floor.

I re- en­tered the me­dia gate, armed with cam­era gear this time,

team­mates Edgar Martinez, Randy John­son and Dan Wil­son on Aug. 10. while Terri waited at the main gate for a high school class­mate to show up. They didn’t get in un­til 4: 30. I knew bat­ting prac­tice started at 3 p. m. and wanted to be in­side on the field for pho­tos. The me­dia has its own el­e­va­tor, and it took me a few rides to get ori­ented. Mariners GM Jack Zduri­en­cik was on one short, crowded ride with a cou­ple of Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers fans. The Brew­ers were Jack’s pre­vi­ous ball club, and were play­ing the Mariners in the evening game.

I made my way to the tun­nel which leads to the field near the vis­it­ing team’s dugout. I saw Mariners play­ers cir­cled around the bat­ting cage, wait­ing their turn to hit. A field at­ten­dant told me the do’s and don’ts for pho­tog­ra­phers and where I could walk. Pho­tog­ra­phers, other than the Mariners’ pho­tog­ra­pher, aren’t al­lowed on the grass. We are re­stricted to the gravel warn­ing track that runs around the field and we can’t go be­yond the pho­tog­ra­pher “wells” on ei­ther side of the two team dugouts. Since it was still early, there were only a few other pho- tog­ra­phers in sight. I was told the on­slaught of me­dia pho­tog­ra­phers would be­gin around 4: 30 p. m., in time to pre­pare for the Grif­fey’s in­duc­tion cer­e­mony.

I found it hard to get a good bat­ting cage shot be­cause you had to shoot through the net­ting around the cage. I fig­ured a good shot would be from cen­tre field with a tele­photo lens. I didn’t have time to try this op­tion out. I was ex­cited to try it out my new f4, 200- 400 mm zoom lens, but ran out of time get­ting set­tled and ori­ented at the field. The Hall of Fame cer­e­mony for Grif­fey was com­ing at 5: 30 p. m., and time was fly­ing fast. I got a spot in the pho­tog­ra­phers’ well near the Mariners dugout, which fea­tured an open view of their dugout.

Seat­tle AP pho­tog­ra­pher Elaine Thomp­son, also get­ting set up, gave me some point­ers and helped me se­cure a spot. By evening’s end and af­ter a few self- por­traits to­gether, Thomp­son, Ja­panese pho­tog­ra­pher Shoji Onozawa, who had the space next to me, and I were on friendly terms. I had an open in­vite from them to come back and shoot with them again some­time. Also shar­ing the well were pho­tog­ra­phers from Getty, USA To­day, and Roots Sports TV. There was plenty of room to nav­i­gate in the bunker- like space. One of the pho­tog­ra­phers told me that since Ichiro is no longer with the team, num­bers of the photo press have di­min­ished re­mark­ably. Ev­ery­body was pretty sea­soned and had their rou­tine. I was def­i­nitely the rookie in the group.

Af­ter mark­ing my spot in the photo well, I fig­ured I bet­ter get some­thing to eat be­cause it was go­ing to be a long evening. I took a pass on the rest of bat­ting prac­tice. By the time I fin­ished eat­ing, bat­ting prac­tice was over and the field was get­ting in­un­dated with me­dia types.

I walked past Ken Grif­fey Jr.’ s par­ents and fam­ily com­ing out of a room into a long hall­way near the en­trance to the field and thought of pho­tograph­ing dig­ni­taries walk­ing around long cor­ri­dors in the West Wing. I de­cided it wasn’t re­ally a good pa­parazzi mo­ment and fig­ured get­ting es­tab­lished on the field was more im­por­tant. Af­ter all, I was the new guy and re­ally didn’t know what I was do­ing. There would be bet­ter pho­to­graphs to be had.

A roped- off area in front of the bat­ters box marked where pho­tog­ra­phers had to stand, or ac­tu­ally kneel, as we were told by a Mariners rep­re­sen­ta­tive, for Grif­fey’s event. I had two min­utes to get the gear I was go­ing to use and grab my spot on the track. I wasn’t sup­posed to move at all dur­ing the cer­e­mony, but no­ticed a few of the pho­tog­ra­phers jock­ey­ing for new po­si­tions. Af­ter the national an­them, Mariners dig­ni­taries and pre­vi­ous Mariner Hall of Famers Alvin Davis, Jay Buh­ner, Edgar Martinez, Randy John­son and Dan Wil­son were in­tro­duced, along with Grif­fey’s fam­ily. Then it was time for Grif­fey’s ap­pear­ance. As he came out of a cen­tre- field door, he ap­peared dwarfed by a gi­ant ban­ner fea­tur­ing im­ages of his fa­mous swing.

The crowd let out a tremen­dous roar of ap­proval. It was a sell­out, with 46,000 peo­ple in at­ten­dance. Grif­fey stopped and waved, let­ting ev­ery­one know he was back. And back he was. His hum­ble speech brought the crowd to its feet and tears to many eyes, in­clud­ing Ju­nior’s and this pho­tog­ra­pher’s.

It was a great night to be a part of Ken Grif­fey Jr.’ s wel­come home.

— The As­so­ci­ated Press


Ken Grif­fey Jr. gets emo­tional at his in­duc­tion cer­e­mony and is com­forted by wife Melissa. Daugh­ter Taryn Grif­fey and son Tevin Grif­fey are to the right.


Ken Grif­fey Jr. waves to the crowd while walk­ing by for­mer Mariners

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