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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2005-10-31

Soxtober: The Great Escape
By Brad Mangin, Major League Baseball Photos

Photo by Rich Pilling / MLB Photos

Photo by Rich Pilling / MLB Photos

Brad Mangin before Game 2 of the 2005 World Series at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.
The 2005 World Series between the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox will be one that I remember for a long time, for many different reasons. Mostly I will remember the wonderful friends I have all over the country that helped me cope with the recent passing of my mother by making me laugh and take my mind off the many serious family matters that I must now tend to since the Fall Classic has ended.

I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to photograph the Series for Major League Baseball Photos every year since 2000 and always look forward to this wonderful week. After my mother Juanita Mangin died on October 11, 2005, 11 days before Game 1 of the 2005 World Series, I looked forward to the first pitch of Game 1 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago more than ever. I needed an escape from reality and baseball gave it to me.

I lost my father Al Mangin in 1993 and with the death of my mom I was left in the very surreal reality of no longer having any parents. I no longer had a safe place to go to when things were not going well. My childhood home since 1972 was now an empty shell that would soon be sold. I now had to be responsible, along with my sister Paula and her husband Rod, for taking care of all of my mom's financial affairs and the red tape that goes along with that. I finally had to grow up, which is something that I, at age 40, have been resisting for a very long time.

After having a wonderful memorial service for my mom that my best friend Joe Gosen did such a fantastic job presiding over on Sunday afternoon, October 16 and seeing so many wonderful family and friends I was ready to get out of town. I needed to clear my head after spending several weeks in with my mom in the hospital, the nice folks at the funeral home and the clowns at the bank. I needed my friends and baseball. Thank God the Series was waiting for me.

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin

Brad Mangin photographed his mom Juanita Mangin doing her ceramics in the garage for a class assignment in junior college in 1986.
Following are some observations and comments after spending several days covering all four World Series games in Chicago and Houston:

* I need to give a special thanks to World Series Champion Chicago White Sox team photographer Ron Vesely (that has a nice ring to it, doesn't it Ves?) and his wife Tina for opening the doors of their home to me so I could come to Chicago a day early and soak up the atmosphere around the ol' ballpark (U.S. Cellular Field) as Vesely prepped for his first-ever Series with the Sox. Getting the chance to hang out in his office at the park and harass him with David Durochik was worth getting up at 4:30 am for in order to catch the early flight to Chicago.

* I have heard the legendary tales of Mickey Palmer and Johnny Iacono and their longtime pursuit of the traditional World Series Press Pins for many years. Someday these two childhood friends will be able to retire on all of the hardware they have stashed away as they have collected and saved one pin from each team involved in the Series going back many years. It was fun to see what I witnessed on Friday, October 21, 2005 on the day before Game 1. There they were, inside the ticket booth where the official MLB office workers were handling credential requests from the hordes of media lined up outside the ticket booth at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. Safely inside the booth Mickey jokingly picked up the big cardboard box of the prized collectibles that had just arrived at the park marked "Press Pins." This was definitely one of the funniest moments of the Series and I am sure glad I have the pictures to prove I was there! Actually, both Mickey and Johnny both got their allotment of one pin each from the Sox, as did most of the rest of us. It was the pin situation in Houston that was the problem as many shooters were denied the first Series pin in Astros history.

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin

Mickey Palmer shows off the box of 2005 White Sox World Series Press Pins at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.
* Speaking of Mickey and Johnny, there is no better way to spend the night before Game 1 than by having a nice Italian dinner with these two characters. I had the pleasure of dining with my crew from MLB Photos: Rich Pilling, Paul Cunningham and Steve Green, along with the above mentioned Mr. Vesely and the pin collectors Mickey and Johnny. The place was Carlucci in Rosemont and it could not have come any higher recommended than the advance praise we heard from Mickey, Johnny, Rich and Steve. They had all been there many times and really know their restaurants so I knew it would be good. But even better than the food were the stories from Mickey and Johnny that kept us laughing all the way to the post-dinner cigars back at the hotel. Believe me when I tell you that there is nothing like hearing these guys talk about all the crazy things they used to do back in the day when people like me were home on Friday nights watching original episodes of the Brady Bunch air on ABC.

* The post-game parties ain't what they used to be. The surest sign that the spread in Chicago was not up to snuff was the sight of Mickey and Johnny LEAVING the party before any of us had even packed up our gear after Game 1. The beer was cold but the food left a lot to be desired and was a long way off from the ice sculptures, sushi and cooked-to-order pasta at Shea Stadium in 2000. I know all of us in the media are a bunch of cheap whiners and crybabies, but after covering a long Series game in the cold and the rain we are a little hungry, aren't we?

* The White Sox fans are really terrific. I had never had the opportunity to shoot the Sox at their new ballpark, let alone the wonderful Old Comiskey, so I had never experienced their classic, blue-collar fans in person. That all changed on Saturday afternoon before Game 1 when I went out to shoot some fan features and chatted with many of the fans who were all decked out in various Sox licensed attire while grilling brats, drinking beer and smoking cigars. These folks are real people, not at all like many of the yuppie, cell phone waving clowns that clutter up my home ballpark in San Francisco. The Sox fans were a blast to talk to and really made me appreciate the opportunity to travel the country a little bit and experience the different people that root for the various clubs. There is so much great baseball history on the South Side that I was really happy for these fans when their club won it all.

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin

World Series Champion Chicago White Sox team photographer Ron Vesely is very happy in the victorious clubhouse after Game 4 in Houston.
* After many years of emptiness I finally had the unique pleasure of shooting a baseball game next to Chicago-based Getty Images staffer Jonathan Daniel. I spent all of Game 1 in the outside third base photo position shooting next to JD and it was an experience I will never forget. We spent all nine innings talking baseball and crucifying many of the ballplayers, including the eventual Series MVP Jermaine Dye of the White Sox. I started ripping on Dye before his first at bat in the first inning against Roger Clemens. I always hated his Walt Wriniak approach to hitting and how lousy he looked from third base on his follow though. JD agreed with me and commented on how awful Dye had been the last few months of the season. Of course, on the next pitch Dye homered to right field (making an terrible picture for us at third base) and we were both left to eat our words as he went on to hit .438 in the Series and walk away with a fancy new yellow car from Chevy for winning the MVP award.

* After shooting two exciting Series games in Chicago in the cold and the rain it was very nice to head to Houston for Game 3 and get the chance to work at Astros team photographer Stephen O'Brien's home ballpark: Minute Maid Park. This park has some great inside photo positions and some terrific overhead platforms (a place that needs to be shared with Scott Clarke to get the full effect) and the weather is sure a lot nicer here in late October than it is in the middle of the summer! The proximity of the photographer's workroom to the field makes it such an easy park to work in. I only wish the Astros bats had shown up a little bit so their fans would have had a little more to cheer for.

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin

Chowing down on BBQ at City Market in Luling, Texas are (l-r) Robert Seale, Nate Gordon, Albert Dickson and Jay Drowns.
* Because of everything I had been through with my mom and due to the fact that I had a ton of paperwork dealing with her death waiting for me when I got home I did not want this Series to end. I wanted no part of the reality that awaited me back home, thus I was rooting for Houston to get some hits, score some runs and win a few ball games so we could head back to Chicago for Game 6 on Saturday night. Unfortunately the White Sox pitching was too tough on Houston and everything ended way too suddenly after Game 4 on Wednesday night after the Sox swept the Series in four straight games, leaving me and many other out of town shooters faced with the task of scrambling for flights to get home the next day. Since I did not want to head back to reality I convinced my good friends and Houston residents Robert Seale and Karen Warren to let me crash at their house for one night so I could delay my trip home by a day. To make the extra day off in Houston even more fun and relaxing Seale organized an afternoon trip to the Mecca of Texas BBQ in the hill country outside of Austin in a small town called Luling, home of the City Market. Sporting News staffers Albert Dickson and Jay Drowns, Sports Illustrated picture editor Nate Gordon and local freelancer Jake Nielsen joined Robert, Karen and me. We caravanned in two cars as we drove the 136 miles ONE WAY to Luling, where we were met by our good friend and local BBQ expert Darren Carroll. What a fun afternoon we all spent together eating BBQ and drinking Shiner Bock (at only $1.25 per bottle who could stop at just one?). Thanks again Robert and Karen, this wonderful day would not have been possible without your kindness!

* I need to congratulate my good friend Ron Vesely, longtime club photographer for the newly crowned World Series Champion Chicago White Sox. Ves has been with the club for many years and has had to endure many barbs over the years that come with being associated with the bastard stepchild ball club in the Windy City, second to the Cubs. Ves will be retiring his lucky red Sox shirt and will undoubtedly be getting fitted for the World Series ring in the very near future. Way to go Ves! You deserve it!

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin

MLB Photos Director of Photography Rich Pilling changes his flight home after Game 4 in Houston while sitting in Barbara Bush's seat behind the plate at Minute Maid Park.
* In closing I need to send out a special get well to Rich Pilling, my boss at Major League Baseball. Rich took a bad fall on Thursday night at his home after traveling home all day from Houston. He suffered a bad knee injury requiring reconstructive knee surgery on Friday morning. Rich is now resting comfortably at his home in New Jersey where he enjoyed watching NFL football on TV Sunday afternoon after joking with Ron Vesely that his injury is to be blamed on the White Sox for winning in four straight games. If they would have been a little easier on the Astros Rich would not have flown home early and thus would not have injured himself while lugging his camera gear into his basement. I will blame his fall on the fact that Pilling and Paul Cunningham did not stay an extra day to have BBQ with us in Luling. I look forward to seeing Rich getting back to his old self in time for our big Spring Training dinner at City Hall in Scottsdale where Eric Risberg will be buying the wine and Chip Goldeen will be supplying the Ashton cigars.

I am now home and will start the long process of dealing with life without my mom as the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer. The thing that I know I will be able to count on are the many friends who are always there for me and the baseball that is just around the corner in only 105 days when pitchers and catchers report to spring training.


(Brad Mangin is a San Francisco-based freelance photographer. His many clients include Sports Illustrated and Major League Baseball Photos, for whom he shot the 2005 World Series.)

Related Links:
2005 World Series Gallery
Mangin's member page

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