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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2006-11-16

The 2006 World Series: From Greektown to The Hill
By Brad Mangin, Major League Baseball Photos

Photo by Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

Photo by Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

From left to right: Brad Mangin, Paul Cunningham and Ron Vesely of the MLB Photos crew pose for a picture at Busch Stadium in St. Louis before Game 3 of the 2006 World Series.
When I made the 800-mile drive to cover spring training in Arizona way back in February of 2006 I never would have thought that I would be covering the World Series eight months later in the first and second most dangerous cities in the United States: St. Louis and Detroit. 2006 ended up being a funny season for me to cover. The first pictures I shot on February 28 in Scottsdale were of Barry Bonds dressed as Paula Abdul and the last pictures I shot on October 27 in St. Louis were of the Cardinals celebrating their first World Series title since 1982.

Sure, Tony La Russa's Cardinals are perennial contenders in the National League, but the last time I remember shooting the Tigers for a story it was about how bad they were. However, after new skipper Jim Leyland led his Tigers past the Oakland A's in the ALCS, ruining a chance for us in the Bay Area to enjoy hosting a few games of the World Series, I knew I would be heading off to the Motor City to shoot the first two games of the Fall Classic against the winner of the Cardinals vs. Mets series.

I had not been to Detroit since I shot a few games at Tiger Stadium way back in 1994. I LOVED Tiger Stadium. Being on assignment for Upper Deck back then I was not allowed to shoot on the field and had to settle for working from the overhead baskets- but it did not matter. Tiger Stadium was the coolest old park I had ever seen. This trip would be different as I would get the chance to cross a new ballpark off my list and work at the Tigers' new yard: Comerica Park, which opened in 2000.

I traveled to Detroit a day early, on Thursday October 19. Game 1 was to open the Series a few nights later on Saturday. We still did not know who would be playing the Tigers until the National league pennant was decided at Shea Stadium in New York that night. When the Cards beat the Mets in a thrilling Game 7 classic, punching our tickets for St. Louis for Games 3, 4 and 5 of the World Series I knew I would get to cross a SECOND new park off my list: the NEW Busch Stadium.

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin

Rich Pilling of MLB Photos enjoys a pint and a smoke at The Scottish Arms in St. Louis.
I was lucky to be working my seventh Series in a row with the Major League Baseball Photos team led by Director of Photography Rich Pilling and Photo Editor Paul Cunningham. Joining me as a photographer on the team, as usual, was Chicago White Sox team photographer Ron Vesely. Our foursome has spent a lot of time together the past seven Octobers in ballparks, airplanes, hotels, restaurants, bars and rental cars and somehow we have all lived to tell about it. Barely.

Following are some observations and comments after spending several fun-filled days covering all five World Series games (and a rain out) in Detroit and St. Louis:

* Detroit had the best post game party since the Mets in 2000 (ice sculptures, sushi and cooked-to-order pasta)- at least that is what Vesely and I think. The Tigers hosted their VIP's and us media freeloaders upstairs in the Tiger Club after Games 1 and 2. The wonderful atmosphere, great food and huge selection of beverages at the bars made all of us cold, tired, hungry and thirsty photographers VERY happy. Just when you think that the ball clubs don't care about us media-types an organization like the Tigers steps up to the plate and treats us right. I think Sporting News intern Matthew Kutz is STILL fetching Sporting News staffer Robert Seale and I Chocolate Devotion Cold Stone ice cream and Getty Images staffer Jonathan Daniel (more on him later) is probably still wandering around the Tiger Club at Comerica Park telling hilarious tales about Indiana Hoosiers' familial dating habits.

Photo by Busch Stadium Security Guard

Photo by Busch Stadium Security Guard

From left: Mickey Palmer, Brad Mangin and John Iacono pose for a picture from the first base overhead position before Game 4 of the 2006 World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
* 2006 might go down as the year the World Series press pins jumped the shark. This years offerings from both the Tigers and the Cardinals were so cheap and generic looking that when we first got our Tigers pins in Detroit we thought they were a joke. Really. We thought someone at MLB gave these pins to us just to pull a joke on Pilling. We were wrong. The tradition of the press pin goes back over 100 years when the pin actually acted as your credential to cover the Series. Over the years they have always been highly sought-after and later sold for big piles of cash at memorabilia shows or on eBay. This years pins are both going for over $125 apiece on eBay. Maybe that is because they are scarcer than in the past? I know I sound like the classic whiny photographer- but that is OK because it comes with the territory! We all love to piss and moan when the parking sucks, the food sucks, the light sucks, the weather sucks, the backgrounds suck, the game sucks and the pins suck! But there is some good news: despite the best efforts of guys in suits, it seems like most of the working shooters covering the Series were able to get their pins thanks to the above-mentioned Mr. Pilling who had to fight for a few boxes to hand out to all of us.

* If you are ever in a strange town and want to know where to find a good bar make sure you check with the local photographers. St. Louis freelancers Dilip Vishwanat and Tom Gannam turned our group onto a great place a few miles west of Busch Stadium called The Scottish Arms. This place turned out to be a great place to unwind after marking photo positions at Busch Stadium on the travel day before Game 3 and after a few of the ballgames. How can you go wrong with a place that pours thick porters and allows you to smoke cigars? I knew this place had to be cool when Haight Ashbury-dwelling Getty staffer Jed Jacobsohn dropped in after Game 3 for a pint and a smoke.

* It isn't a World Series for our group at MLB Photos unless we get to dine at an Italian restaurant with legendary photographers Mickey Palmer and Johnny Iacono. This year was no different as the pair joined the Sporting News crew and us in St. Louis for a wonderfully entertaining meal at Charlie Gitto's on The Hill. Getting the chance to hear these lifelong friends argue and tell stories is worth the price of admission alone. Hearing Johnny Eye tell stories about guarding the ORIGINAL and ONLY copy of the Zapruder film in the early 1960's as he showed the film to various law-enforcement agencies, including Scotland Yard, was off the charts. If you are ever at an event with Mickey and Johnny you must offer to take them out and buy them dinner- ANYWHERE they want to go. You will not be sorry.

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin

FOX Sports reporter Chris Myers interviews Getty Images staffer Jonathan Daniel in the hallway during a rain delay before Game 4 of the 2006 World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
* Jonathan Daniel is the funniest man on the planet. OK- I might be exaggerating a little bit- but trust me. Getty Images staffer (and now Cheesehead) JD is the type of guy you want to be around when you have four hours to kill before a ballgame- or SIX hours to kill in a tunnel during a rain out, like we had before Game 4 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. I do not get to see JD much as he never works in the Bay Area and I never get to the Midwest- unless there is a World Series there. Therefore- it is always a highlight getting the chance to hang out with shooters like him at events like this and JD provided us with one of the funniest "you had to be there" moments many of us have witnessed in a long time during the rain delay. JD was taking a nap in the Busch Stadium tunnel around the corner from the photo workroom when FOX Sports reporter Chris Myers awakened him. In front of many of us who were waiting out a long rain delay Myers woke JD up and shoved a FOX microphone in front of his face while jokingly asking him "Is this a union job?" JD wasted no time by replying, while laying down with a deadpanned tone in his voice, "Why don't you go eat a bag of dicks." I know what you are thinking. You just had to be there. You really did as the horrified Myers scurried away amid howls of laughter.

* The fun continued for me (and after all that is one of my highest priorities at the World Series- trying to have fun. Thanks V.J.!) when Game 4 was finally played the night after the JD incident and I had the amazing opportunity to shoot alongside the above-mentioned Mickey Palmer and Johnny Iacono from a first base overhead position at Busch Stadium. Ron Vesely had shot in our MLB Photos position in Game 3 and had to juggle his feet and monopod on a few milk crates to see over the fans in front of him. That did not sound like much fun to me so I hung out with Mickey and Johnny before the game a few feet to the left of our assigned spot. I was then invited to join them in their own little standing spot to shoot the game in front of a TV camera that was not blocked too badly by the fans.

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin

David Klutho offers Paul Cunningham a cup of 3D coffee.
These two are always fun to hang out with and shooting a World Series game in between the two of them is something I will never forget. I have the unique pleasure of getting the chance to have lunch and shoot several times a week with Mickey during the regular season in the Bay Area, but I only get the chance to see Johnny at special events like the Series. During the game I had weird heat wave problems making many of my images appear soft and mushy. Johnny Eye didn't seem to have any problems and didn't let me forget it the next day when I was making excuses for having lousy pictures from Game 4. Maybe Johnny's Nikon glass does a better job of cutting through the heat waves coming out of the Cardinals dugout below than my Canon glass. I don't know. All I do know is Johnny made some great pictures that night that were TACK sharp and most of mine sucked. But then you know what they say- it's not the equipment it's the photographer. In this case I am happy to take a back seat to Johnny- just for the memories I will cherish for the privilege of shooting between these two sports photography icons.

* I had heard the stories. I could almost picture it in my mind. However, until I had the pleasure of seeing the home of Sports Illustrated staff photographer David Klutho in suburban St. Louis I could not appreciate it. Wow what a place! Klutho was kind enough to host many of the local shooters and us out-of-towners for a BBQ lunch before Game 4 of the Series and were we ever thankful. Klutho's parties are legendary and this little BBQ he "threw together" was pretty amazing. Between the food, (brats, burgers, toasted raviolis and more) the air hockey and the spectacular showing of his 3D photography it was an afternoon that will not be soon forgotten. I still can't get over the fact that people in the Midwest do not have backyard fences. I guess I have lived in California too long!

Photo by Kazia Steele

Photo by Kazia Steele

St. Louis Cardinals team photographer Scott Rovak holds up the World Series trophy after his club won Game 5 and the Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
* Congratulations go out to St. Cardinals team photographers Dan Donovan and Scott Rovak who celebrated their first Series victory with the club. Dan and Scott were wonderful hosts in St. Louis and I hope to see World Series rings on their fingers the next time I see them. I also want to mention how nice it was to meet Tigers team photographer Mark Cunningham who made his Series debut this year. I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of Mark in the coming years.

* As usual the best part of covering the Series is getting the chance to see so many old friends and getting the chance to make new ones. The worst part of the Series ending is saying goodbye to everyone at the final post game party. I know it sounds crazy, but I would not have minded if the Tigers would have won Game 5 and forced us to drive all night to Detroit right after the game so we could be there in time for Game 6 the next night. Then we could have had one more crack at the Tigers post game festivities in the Tiger Club and Kutz could have fetched Seale and I some Birthday Cake Remix.

It is only about 100 days before I begin my annual drive to Scottsdale for Cactus League baseball. My hotel room was booked in September and I can hardly wait for the first big group dinner at the Italian Grotto with all my friends. Until then I will have to spend the dark and rainy days editing and archiving the 100 or so big league hardball games I shot during 2006. Anyone out there want to help me caption this stuff?


(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 2006 World Series.)

Related Links:
Mangin's member page
Mangin's website

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