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|| News Item: Posted 2009-03-10

Leading Off: Spring: A Time Of Hope
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin

Jim Ray Hart (left) and Bobby Bonds smoke cigarettes in the dugout before an old timers day game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California in 1992.

March. A time when the weather changes. The outlook is sunny. A time of renewed hope. And as the old Spring Training axiom goes: Everyone is in first place!

Aaaa… Spring Training.

It had been a couple of years since I had covered Spring Training in Arizona, where March means the dry desert weather with temperatures in the 80s and 90s. Not like most of the country where they were digging out from another eight inches of snow.

I had forgotten how much I loved Spring Training in Arizona and how much I loved and missed baseball.

The Cactus League, like most of the country, has seen some changes because of the downturn in the economy. Crowds at some of the games are noticeably smaller and there are definitely a lot fewer photographers covering them.

When I think of Spring Training I see visions of maybe Gaylord Perry, Tito Fuentes or Jimmy Ray Hart laying on an inflatable mattress in the bat-shape swimming pool at their hotel in Casa Grande in 1964.

Or memories 28 years later, seeing Will Clark sitting in the patio bar at the team hotel and tipping his bottle at me when I walked in after having shot his portrait just a few hours earlier.

My five days last week in the Valley Of the Sun was a return of sorts. It was early mornings at the ballpark shooting stretching and throwing. It was dinner at an old-time favorite the Pink Pony --- where they serve prime rib cuts "as big as your head" in the immortal words of a good friend. It's late night at the new cool hangout, the Italian Grotto listening to Z-Man tell us another one of his great stories or watching Wayne Gretzky in the next table being verbally assaulted by a fan giving him a waaay too long Marv Albert impression (at least the dude had more hair than Marv).

Spring Training is a time when the players are mellow. The fans are real fans. Nobody is sitting behind home plate with a cellphone up to their face and waving. It's a time when your editor can email a team p.r. director 12 hours before a game and get you a credential. And a time when Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum has all the time in the world for a photographer trying to make a multiple-exposure of his pitching motion.

March and Spring Training are a time of hope.

* * *

Blog, here and blog there … everyone has a blog. This issue of the Sports Shooter Newsletter leads off with an insightful piece by Allen Murabayashi about blogs.

Sports Illustrated's Al Tielemans gives us a behind the scenes look at the recent Super Bowl and his cover shot of the play of the game.

Everyone is pumped up over the Canon 5D Mark II and it's high-def video capabilities. Paul Myers gives us his thoughts on the downside of the camera.

We get a double-dose of Darrell Miho this month, writing two pieces about a recent trip to Asia to cover the Presidential Inaugural in … Obama, Japan.

Craig Mitchelldyer writes this month's "Photographers Toy Box" feature about a cool, new app that allows you to upload images via your iPhone. David McIntyre writes about what gear you need to have to make that transition from staff photographer to freelance photographer.

We kick off a new regular feature "Sports Shooter Cool Gig" with Preston Mack writing about a SUPER portrait session with the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard.

The Final Four is just around the corner and Porter Binks gives you all of the information you need to have to cover March Madness and Diane Weiss gives us things to do and see when visiting Detroit.

Note: Sorry for the little delay in this issue of the newsletter. A busy February and the last minute trip to Spring Training interrupted my production schedule,

This month I am reading Watchmen, the graphic novel by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons; The Yankee Years by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci and I am rereading the wonderful SF Giants, An Oral History by Mike Mandel.

On heavy rotation on iTunes is "Step It Up" by The Bamboos, a funk band from down under.


As always, thanks to Special Advisors & Contributors: Deanna & Emma Hanashiro, Brad Mangin, Rod Mar, Trent Nelson, Jason Burfield, Grover Sanschagrin, Joe Gosen, Paul Myers, Myung J. Chun, Jared Dort and Bob Deutsch.

Thanks this month to: Allen Murabayashi, Al Tielemans, Darrell Miho, Preston Mack and David McIntyre.

I welcome any comments, corrections, suggestions and contributions. Please e-mail me at

The Sports Shooter Archives as well as tons of cool resources and information can be accessed through the Internet at

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