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|| News Item: Posted 2004-09-08

Michael Zagaris added to 2004 Workshop & Luau lineup
By Brad Mangin, Sports Shooter

Photo by Michael Zagaris

Photo by Michael Zagaris

Bill Walsh and Joe Montana during the 1985 NFC Championship game against the Chicago Bears at Candlestick Park.
That's right sports fans... The Z-Man himself, legendary San Francisco Bay Area rock & roll and sports photographer Michael Zagaris will be leaving his longtime home in the Haight-Ashbury to join us all in Redondo Beach, Calif. for the Sports Shooter Workshop & Luau on November 5 - 6.

Zagaris, the long-time team photographer for both the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Athletics will be a main speaker.

"Adding Z to our line up is like adding Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds... this is a home run!" said Luau organizer Robert Hanashiro.

"He's the ultimate free spirit," said Hall of Fame NFL coach Bill Walsh, "and an absolute genius at his work."

"He's a man for the ages," former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young said of Z-man. "If you're going to pick someone to do a story on the international underworld, I'd take him. He'd be better than '60 minutes.' "

Zagaris will join the two other previously-announced main speakers: 2003 Newspaper Photographer of the Year Rick Loomis of the Los Angeles Times and Washington D.C. - based freelance photographer Matt Mendelsohn.

The Z-man is Michael Zagaris, 59, of San Francisco, team photographer for the 49ers and Oakland A's. He is rarely addressed as "Michael" or "Zagaris." He is more commonly known as "Z-man" or "Zee." Z-man is not your typical team photographer. After a game, he showers with the players. He has five Super Bowl rings from the 49ers and a World Series ring from the A's.

When it comes to rock-and-roll, Z-man has rocked and rolled. He openly discusses having done psychedelic drugs with well-known rock bands. The Z-man hides nothing about himself.

"I like excitement, thrills, the unknown," he said. "I hope I live until I'm 90, and life's exciting. And if I die at 90, I hope it's exciting."

If you're thinking the Z-man has stories, you have no idea. He was a speechwriter for Bobby Kennedy, and was in the Los Angeles hotel kitchen when Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan.
Z-man was a college football player who tried out for Don Shula and Walsh. Z-man knows Mick Jagger, and would tell you what Jagger told him about the pressures of being a rock star off stage. Only it's not for print.

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin

Michael Zagaris jokes with Oakland Athletics pitchers Barry Zito, center, and Tim Hudson, right, during a 2004 game in Oakland.
Z-man has partied with rock stars after filming them. Chris Isaak crashed at Z-man's house.

Z-man hooked up Jose Canseco and Madonna.

Z-man has so many stories, that if only half were true, he has been sitting on a best-seller for years. Then, again, who needs the lawsuits.

The most interesting people Z-man has met? He named three: Keith Moon, the late drummer of "The Who;" Bobby Kennedy, and current Dodgers catcher Brent Mayne.

"Totally crazy," Z-man said of Moon. "He drove a Cadillac into the Beverly Hilton, rang the bell, and wanted to check in. He made me feel normal."

"Bobby was one of a kind. He evolved from a real jerk in his younger days to becoming real compassionate, and wanting to effect positive change. Mayne is multifaceted - a surfer, a thinker. He knows all the great underground clubs that don't open until 2 a.m. in New York. He goes to museums, he reads really off-beat books that can change your life. He has a zest for living."

Seattle Times staff photographer Rod Mar is a big fan of the Z-Man. "I once saw Michael Zagaris get kicked out of the Kingdome during a 49'ers/Seahawks game in which a Seahawks player laid a vicious late hit on a 49er's receiver John Taylor. Z ran INTO THE END ZONE and got right into the Seattle player's face before being restrained and ejected. Ever since then, I wanted to be a cool sports photographer just like him," Mar said.

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin

Michael Zagaris photographs Oakland Athletics designated hitter Erubiel Durazo in the dugout during a 2004 game in Oakland.
Former 49ers executive and Cleveland Browns owner Carmen Policy remembers that story. "Z-man attacked the Seattle defensive back, pushed him with his camera, then ran into the locker room. When a security guard came in asking about a weird-looking guy with a camera, I said, 'We don't have anyone like that,' Policy said.

"Michael's knowledge and insider stories about sports and rock n roll will be worth the price of registration all by itself," said Hanashiro.

"People attending The Luau are in for a trip ... they had all better hang on because the ride during Z's presentation will make any roller coaster they have taken in the past seem like Disneyland's Teacups by comparison. I can't wait," Hanashiro added.

To try and sum of the man we call Z I called upon Paul Cunningham, Photo Editor at Major League Baseball Photos, to offer up a story:

"The first time I met Michael Zagaris, known ever since as Z, was in the lobby at the Marriott in Philadelphia before the 1996 All-Star Game. I was a very green photo editor and this was my first trip out of the office. Rich Pilling, my boss, had hired Z to shoot the All-Star Game and we were meeting up for dinner."

"Z always makes a memorable first impression. He was already in the lobby when we got off the elevator. The hotel lobby was crowded with baseball personnel, rich baseball fans, MLB sponsors, players and groupies. Z was easily the most striking individual in the crowd. He was dressed all in Black. Black Jeans, black shirt, black fedora and a dramatic black cape, all perfectly coordinated. My first thought to myself was "welcome to the Big Leagues.""

Photo by Michael Zagaris

Photo by Michael Zagaris

Lynyrd Skynyrd, December 30, 1976.
"Nine years later, that is still how I think of Z. Z is larger than life. His presence lends a certain drama to the World Series that, to me, legitimizes it. Z brilliantly covered several All-Star games and World Series' for MLB Photos as our designated feature photographer. When Z stopped covering the World Series for us, the World Series lost a lot of its luster."

"I always have to be careful when I call Z. I have not yet learned the art of ending a phone conversation and with Z on the other end, I have to budget at least an hour of my time. The conversation always ranges widely and always veers into politics. Along the way it can also run off on tangents to eastern philosophy, corporate malfeasance, sports and of course, sex, drugs and rock and roll. We may even get around to discussing photography."

"Z is a treasure in the photography world because he is what many of us think a photographer should be. He is an artist. He is charming, intelligent, educated and fascinating. He is a radical who treats every one with the same good humored respect. His art is unpredictable and compelling. Z has an easy rapport with people which provides unique access. I love having Z cover a game for me because I know that he will give me something unexpected. I love talking to Z because I know that I will learn something and I love listening to his stories because I know that I will be entertained," said Cunningham.

The 2004 Luau has gained a lot of luster by adding Michael Zagaris to the starting lineup.

(Sports Shooter thanks Dave Newhouse and Jon Becker of the Alameda Newspaper Group (Oakland Tribune) for granting permission to reprint excerpts from a Tribune story in this article. To check out some of Z-Man's work, turn to Brad Mangin Photography's Guest Gallery at:

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