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Baseball shooters....ever hear this one ???
Ken Babbitt, Photographer
Scituate | MA | USA | Posted: 5:38 PM on 05.17.08
->> Last Saturday I shot a doubleheader in Pawtucket. After shooting the majority of the first game and half of the second,between innings the homeplate umpire starts walking toward me motioning for me to walk to him. He proceeds to inform me that in order for me to be on the field I must be wearing a helmet like the base coaches are required to do this season. One of the upsides is that unlike most ballparks, McCoy doesn't have any designated photo pits, so I have always had the freedom to shoot from several angles, down each line, etc., so this one took me by surprise. I more than understand the safety concern after the death of Mike Coolbaugh last season, but I had never heard of any such rule being put into place. Has anyone else heard of this development ? None of the shooters that I have spoken to had, but it's a very small sampling. Figured that I'd throw it out to a larger audience.
I will say that the joking around about it in the press box later that night and on the field with players and coaches the following day was rather entertaining !!
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Max Gersh, Student/Intern, Photo Editor
St. Louis | MO | USA | Posted: 6:00 PM on 05.17.08
->> My college played at a minor league ballpark in East STL. It was the same deal where they didn't have photo pits so you would stand on the dirt right inside the seats. In previous years, I was even able to get right behind the on-deck circle (which was really dangerous) and nobody cared. This year, I got to my spot near third base and shot for a few innings. After I left the field to shoot from a higher position, a player came chasing me down to tell me I couldn't be there. I identified myself because I thought he thought I was a spectator with a camera. He said the umps have been cracking down this year about keeping people off the field.

I wasn't given the option to wear a helmet, although I don't know that I would want to.

Photography evolves and we usually have to roll with it. I remember a while ago someone linked to a photo taken from inside of a base. I remember another great photo of a pole vaulter with the camera right next to the pit. All of these things have been deemed unsafe and we can no longer do them. It's not so farfetched to think that in the future photogs in the pits might have to wear protective gear.

It will be interesting to see how things continue to evolve.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 8:46 PM on 05.17.08
->> Rule or not, it's a good idea. Photographers are even more vulnerable than base coaches.

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Daniel Putz, Photographer
Jefferson | MD | USA | Posted: 8:54 PM on 05.17.08
->> I wasn't even allowed on the field at my DII school... :/ I was allowed in the dugout last year...but this year the coach sited 'only gameday personnel' may be on the field during the game.
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Robert Smith, Photographer
Brandon | MS | USA | Posted: 9:32 PM on 05.17.08
->> I've been shooting the NCAA DII South Central Regional at Delta State in Cleveland Mississippi and they are not allowing ANY photography on the field, period. Good thing they have short enough fences to shoot over.
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David Guralnick, Photographer
Detroit | MI | USA | Posted: 10:07 PM on 05.17.08
->> In the NHL you're supposed to wear helmets when shooting in any position that doesn't have glass to protect you (such as between the benches). The team is supposed to provide a helmet to the photographers.
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Princeton | IN | USA | Posted: 11:08 PM on 05.17.08
->> Don't feel bad. I was not permitted on the tennis court this morning at a high school meet. Got in my car and left.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 12:20 AM on 05.18.08
->> Even high school is exceptionally dangerous. I never take my eye of the batter when he's hitting (that means two eyes open when I catch the local coach giving the steal signal to the runner on first base).

As for tennis, Jeff, I shot regional finals here a week or so ago. I've had trouble getting on the courts in the past when it gets to regional competition. This time they let me shoot from inside the entrance so that helped. The rest of the time I shot thru the fence with a 400mm and did fine.
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Kevin Leas, Photographer
Rochester | NY | USA | Posted: 12:23 AM on 05.18.08
->> After reading this, I can't see how it's a bad idea...;_ylt=Auwt0nmVaul00iXoolAPX8as0NUE
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Rebecca Craig, Photographer, Student/Intern
Santa Fe | NM | USA | Posted: 1:35 AM on 05.18.08
->> I love the fact that the umpire waited until part of the second game to tell you...

When I was in college I was told the same thing about having to wear a helmet, so they let me in the dugouts, but then the home coach didn't like the idea of a female in the dugout. So they drew a box for me to stand in (in the area I was originally shooting from) and I never heard anything more about helmets.

...but I think it's a good idea to wear one.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Not Listed | MA | United States | Posted: 8:36 AM on 05.18.08
->> I hadn't heard this one and will be at McCoy in two weeks. Thanks or the heads up. I know that at PC you can't get anywhere near the ice. PERIOD.

Looks like I'll be buying a helmet.
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Rene Mireles, Photographer
Holland | MI | USA | Posted: 8:43 AM on 05.18.08
->> Helmet wearer here, being a baseball player myself I know how fast foul balls come at you, at the high schools I shoot at the dugouts are not sunk down like some other schools I have shot at , so you don't have the wall to dive behind.

I already have one dent in my 300 hood and that was close enough for me. I use a catchers style helmet like the old days so the front bill is not in the way like the newer batting helmets.
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Andrew Knapik, Photographer, Assistant
Lincoln Park | MI | USA | Posted: 8:57 AM on 05.18.08
->> If you are forced to wear a helmet, try a hockey helmet. There will be no bill on the way, and they only run about $60 US.
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Richard Orr, Photographer
Longmeadow | MA | USA | Posted: 9:23 AM on 05.18.08
->> I am shooting the NCAA D2's this weekend and they wont let me on the field...period. The umps were nice about it, and I can come on to shoot pitching changes, and warm ups, but I cant be on the field during the game.

So, I am making sure whenever an ump is in a picture, I make his ass look really big.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Not Listed | MA | United States | Posted: 5:47 PM on 05.18.08
->> Ken I just got back from a shoot in Pawtucket. I checked with one of the ProJo guys. First that he has heard of it.
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Ken Babbitt, Photographer
Scituate | MA | USA | Posted: 7:19 PM on 05.18.08
->> Eric- It was actually mentioned in last Sunday's ProJo, in Joe McDonald's PawSox notes. I was referred to as "local baseball photographer" rather than him using my name. It's how some of the Pawtucket front office found out about it.

Thanks to all that have responded thus far. This still has to play out and I won't get a definitive answer until they actually speak to the IL office. I've been the team photographer there for many years and am hoping that things will remain as they have been during my tenure. If it has to change, so be it. It is my belief that the photo pits at Fenway are far more dangerous, especially when they're crowded and there's no room to move. Besides...I'm far more aware of what is going on around me when I am on the field.
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Jason Jump, Photographer
Humble | TX | USA | Posted: 7:51 PM on 05.18.08
->> Have not had that happen here in the Lone Star state yet. Was told that I couldn't be on the field during a playoff softball game, but that was because neither coach wanted the dead ball media box on the field. So I shot from the dugout entrance, because other than that it was shoot through a fence.

That's the first time that's ever happened before. I've always been allowed on the field at every game I've shot over the last five-plus years.

The only problem I have is when I'm using my strobe lights during basketball and volleyball, and it's mostly volleyball officials that cry foul.

However back to the OP the John Olreud style helmet's probably not a bad idea though. Wonder if I could get one with my logo on it :).
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Not Listed | MA | United States | Posted: 8:59 PM on 05.18.08
->> Jason do a search of the funpix area on Canha and Braca.

During last year's RIIL softball finals we were given a tiny strip along the fence. One of the officials had a nutty on one of the Providence Journal shooters because his BIG TOE and monopod were over the line! I noticed that there was a gap of about 2 feet between the grandstand and the field's backstop.

I had to crawl on my belly and pop up between the grandstand fence and the backstop wall. The official questioned it and luckily the president of the league was sitting behind me and gave up the nod.

Ken I was with Kris this afternoon and he hadn't heard anything about it. Then again he has been running back and forth covering the Celtics' away games.
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Jason Jump, Photographer
Humble | TX | USA | Posted: 10:52 PM on 05.18.08
->> I'll have to check that out! I had a football ref go "nutty" on me this year, because my foot and monopod were "over the line". And it was the line that was already six feet from the actual sidelines.

I'll quit before I really get started on refs :). I'm also a former basketball coach, so refs and I go WAY back :).
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Derick Hingle, Photographer
Hammond | LA | USA | Posted: 2:22 AM on 05.19.08
->> I got thrown out by a ref in a high school football game once, my foot was across the line and he came up to me saying something, I honestly didn't hear him he came closer I still didn't understand what he was saying finally he came up to me and told me to leave I, asked why, he said I was standing over the line and would not move. I explained I didn't hear him still he kicked me off the field. At this school we were pretty much allowed to go anywhere not on the field of play so it surprised me, at halftime I talked to the head official and the ref let me back on and appologized for kicking me out during the first quarter.

As for baseball it's been mixed showed up to a softball game earlier in the year I was told I couldn't be anywhere on the field, at baseball games for high school it seemed to be a game by game decision, one game I brought a 400mm 2.8 and stood near the fence in right field, the UMP tells me right before the game I have to be right by the dugout, it didn't make any sense, not only did I not have a shot of the batter running down the line now but I was in more danger being closer than I was halfway into right field. There seems to be no clear cut rules on how officials go about their decisions, at least out here.
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Chris Proctor, Photographer
Crete | IL | USA | Posted: 1:12 PM on 05.19.08
->> I have yet to be told that I have to wear a helmet but I think it's just a matter of time before they will be required.
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David Manning, Photographer
Athens | GA | | Posted: 1:25 PM on 05.19.08
->> Ive covered a bunch of games with my coworkers at Georgia's Foley Field. There are no photo wells; you have to stand on the field. One of the first things the SID told me was that every year, they keep trying to get a well or two put in.

I've contemplated on several occasions getting a helmet. This season I only had one close call but a coworker almost got hit before someone leaded out the dugout and grabbed it.

As for getting tossed, where to stand, etc., an umpire told me that GHSA has not set policy of where we can go, its at the umpires discretion. Every time we've come to a workable compromise that allows for good pictures and my safety.

I am just not willing to take a line drive to my head for the sake of my newspaper. Either way, i think if there's no photo well, a helmet is a very good idea (despite what Larry Bowa might think).
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Richard Cashin, Photographer
Cambridge | MA | USA | Posted: 1:53 PM on 05.19.08
->> Even with photo pits it may be advisable to wear some protective gear. I was shooting at Fenway this weekend when Kevin Youkilis fouled a ball off towards me (i caught the shot), I was still shooting when the ball struck a barrier pole of the pit with a loud thud. I was sitting with the pole between my legs and I was not wearing a protective cup, so I was lucky! The damage below would have been substantial and would certainly have made my eyes water! The next inning a ball nearly hit the TV crew beside me.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 1:54 PM on 05.19.08
->> Proctor, if there's one person who needs a helmet at all times ;)

Ken, haven't heard this at all and would be strange to have to wear one. I had to wear one in hockey sitting in between the benches and that's the only time I was required. Really I think it's the teams responsibility to put in a good photo pit rather than make us wear helmets. Only time I wore one was getting a few foul balls in a row hit at me and one of the players came over and put it on my head and handed me his glove jokin around. 90% of the stadiums I shoot at have somewhere to hide come foul balls while others are just dangerous to shoot at.

Only problem I've seen that creates a danger is the grounds crew! In 4 of 5 of the stadiums I shoot at on a regular basis they hang out in the photo well and force photogs to shoot in the wide open on the field or in the worst part of the photo pit just begging to get hit. Many photogs have complained and understand that in the 5th they drag the field but they're in there for 4-5 innings at a time! Last year an umpire yelled at two of us because we were sitting outside the well but behind it still (it stuck out a bit) and we just pointed saying "we can't get in the photo well" cuz the groundscrew was in there eatin seeds, talking on there cell phones, and watchin the game like they paid for the seats. They got the picture and left for the rest of the game, but were right back there next game.
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Jim Metzendorf, Photographer
Columbus | OH | United States | Posted: 2:11 PM on 05.19.08
->> Here in central Ohio, I have never been asked to wear a helmet thus far. One thing I have learned is to always show up early for prep baseball and softball assignments, if at all possible. That way you can introduce yourself to coaches and umps well before the game begins, and aren't showing up at the last minute with special requests. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but it sure makes life easier.

I have always had good luck with umps and coaches being willing to chalk off on-field shooting positions for me when necessary. In fact, at a game last week they were willing to mark two spots for me (one along first, one along third), plus they allowed me to shoot from the dugouts so I had plenty of variety.

I think the key is being polite, respectful, and to make sure they understand that YOU understand player safety and non-interference with the game is of primary importance.
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Grant Gartland, Photographer
Savage | MN | USA | Posted: 3:58 PM on 05.19.08
->> Count yourselves lucky if you get to roam the fields and shoot from many locations. Most league's (NFHS, NCAA, ect.) rule books state that photogs (media in general), must stay within a predefined area, marked with chalk or other landmarks. This area is considered "dead-ball" territory. The helmet element might be an association regulation but not specificly covered in a rule book.

By the way if you cannot tell from my writing, I am both an umpire and photographer. But it still hurts when I get "zebra-ed" while shooting.
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Jason Jump, Photographer
Humble | TX | USA | Posted: 12:47 AM on 05.20.08
->> "There seems to be no clear cut rules on how officials go about their decisions, at least out here."

Personally I think that only adds to the problem as it allows power hungry whistle blowers to weild a little extra something that they can't in other places of their lives.
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Jack Joseph Jr., Photographer
Scottsdale | AZ | USA | Posted: 6:54 PM on 05.22.08
->> Last year Scottsdale CC built a new baseball field, a really nice one with plenty of MLB-type space down the base lines and behind the plate. Unfortunately previous field's four-foot chain link fence was "upgraded" with one of those twelve-foot jobs you see around prisons.

There are no photography wells or safe areas to shoot from. The audience that I used to do some business with changed from lots of people in their lawn chairs to a few stuck directly behind the chain link backstop.

I shot a couple of games there positioned on the outfield end of either dugout. After dodging a few balls and realizing that I had to watch the ball at every pitch I bagged it. Safety is a lot more important than trying to deal with a field that makes no allowances for either spectators or photographers.
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Jeff Martin, Photographer
wellington | OH | usa | Posted: 10:15 PM on 05.22.08
->> If you can see the ball, it can hit you. Photo wells are no protection. You are not going to dodge a well hit ball hit by a college player. There is a reason very few make it to that level of play.

I have been tossed from a seven year old league game "for my safety." I always carry a can of field marking paint to make a photo position. This usually satisfies the umps.
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Jim Donnelly, Photographer
Coral Springs | Fl | USA | Posted: 9:50 PM on 05.31.08
->> Its funny this questions comes up now. If you guys have ever seen or shot from the field level of Dolphin Stadium you know what danger photogs are in.
I know several SS Members that have come close to being seriously injured and or lost lenses. One member even has the video replay of the ball bouncing off of him on his website! I have a great picture of Miguel Cabrerra hitting a ball directly at me with a very worried look on his face. The ball just missed my head (by dumb luck-I couldn't react if I wanted to!) and ricocheted around the pit! Its no joke.
I can't think of many worse feelings than being focused on the Short Stop and having his eyes rocket in your direction. Its like playing Russian Roulette!
I coach third base for teenagers and its not much safer there except that I can always watch the action and have free movement without a mono pod and 400 to worry about.
I looked at the hockey helmet but I'm not crazy about it. I'd like an old catcher's helmet with an ear protector. I know the other photogs will give me a hard time for being a wuss, but at least I will feel safer, be safer and be able to continue to provide for my family. I can't let pride interfere with my income stream!
The rest of my body will have to fend for itself! At least the old noggin will be covered!
I think we have been really lucky that we haven't seen a photog take one in the side of the head more often! Last week we had a broken bat come flying at the third base box! Its only a matter of time - swallow your pride - please protect yourselves!
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Dave Prelosky, Photographer
Lower Burrell | Pa | US | Posted: 11:17 PM on 05.31.08
->> Adding to the general noise level,

The WPIAL - the sanctioning body in Western Pa - holds softball championships at California U of Pa. They have a field with decent parking, tolerable concessions, work space for writers (insult taken), 8ft high chain link fence around the peremeter of the field and shooting protocol that requires hauling your gear, folding chair and a length of 2x6 onto the 1st base dugout as there is no field level provision made for photographers. The 2x6 goes under the back legs of the folding chair back so as to level it and decrease your risk of falling backward off the dugout.

Last time I covered a game, a university minion crawled up the ladder - they do provide that - and asked "Are you all press?"

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Tom Weis, Photographer
Brooklyn | NY | United States | Posted: 9:39 PM on 06.01.08
->> It's been a loooooong time since I shot HS baseball, but I used to sit on top the dugout without any protection. I had a couple of "near misses" as the FAA would say. The helmet rule is not a bad idea.
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Tony Sirgedas, Photographer
Pierce County | WA | USA | Posted: 8:27 PM on 06.02.08
->> While shooting HS ball there is one umpire who asked the coaches to provide someone with a helmet and glove to protect me like they do pitchers warming up for a game. It was a nice thought, but I think I paid more attention to what was going on than the player put out there to cover me.
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James Nix, Photographer
Charlotte | NC | USA | Posted: 8:55 PM on 06.02.08
->> Who needs a helmet when you have a 400mm protecting you like SSer Rod Mar ...
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David Stout, Photographer
Jonesboro | AR | USA | Posted: 8:47 AM on 06.22.08
->> "Who needs a helmet when you have a 400mm protecting you like SSer Rod Mar ..."

James, Its funny that you posted that. I haven't been on here in while but this thread hits home. I actually bought a 400mm 3.5 from Ken (Babbit, starter of this post) several years ago to shoot baseball.

Thanks for the lens Ken.
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Scott Schild, Photographer
Potsdam | NY | United States | Posted: 10:31 AM on 06.22.08
->> I got to hear Jonny Eye's close encounter first hand while interning at SI, and yea I sat in the same spot where he got hit while shooting a game with him.
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David Stoner, Photographer
Atlanta | GA | USA | Posted: 1:12 PM on 06.22.08
->> Ken,
I've got a decent amount of time in now, shooting HS, NCAA, MiLB, and MLB baseball - haven't ever been asked to wear a helmet. I'm amazed that one team would take such precaution to protect a photographer. We're constantly put in harm's way - sometimes by ourselves, sometimes by the teams we cover. It's all in the name of getting the best shots for our clients. I understand the risk when I go to the field to shoot, but I've always laughed off the close calls. Of course, before this season, I had never been hit by a baseball aside from the casual overthrow that had bounced a few times first (it still hurts, but it's not all that dangerous, per se). This Spring, I caught a line drive off the arm when I was in front of the first base dugout, by a LEFT-handed hitter. I have NO idea how he got around on one that much to hit me directly BEHIND him - but, to say the least, now I'm a little gun-shy when I hear loud contact being made. It could have been worse - my arm was balancing my 400mm lens, thus covering my FACE. A helmet wouldn't have helped protect my arm from a bone bruise.

I'm with you, though - I'm MUCH more aware of what's going on when I'm on the field, rather than in a photo pit, dugout, or the stands. Personally, I don't think a helmet would benefit me that much - except to avoid a "death blow" to the head. Anything can happen, but if you just want to look at "odds", I haven't heard of too many people dying from getting hit by a baseball - and there are TENS of MILLIONS of people that attend games every year. That puts us in "lottery" territory as for the odds.

In addition, standing on the field while shooting allows us some flexibility to move around, jump/scoot/step out of the way of any on-coming baseballs. After shooting down in Lakeland the last couple years for Spring Training - is there ANYTHING scarier that having to SIT on the field, with the likes of Gary Sheffield at the plate? I feel like a sitting duck at those games - no protection in front of me - and no way to get out of the way if a ball DOES come my way. Hmmm, on second thought, maybe I WILL take that helmet. Just work it in with my bucket hat, and paint on my Georgia Bulldogs logo for aesthetics - and we're good to go. Stay alert, Ken, either way.
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Thread Title: Baseball shooters....ever hear this one ???
Thread Started By: Ken Babbitt
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