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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2009-12-28

Decade Collection: Matt Brown
'These were my kids playing in the big game not just names on a roster you pick up at the media room.'

By Matt Brown

Photo by Matt A. Brown

Photo by Matt A. Brown

CSF's pitcher Jason Windors (MVP, arms up) and the Titans are National Champs. CSF won 3-2 over Texas.
They say "third times a charm". When it came to Cal State Fullerton baseball and me that is true. In 2001 and 2003 I traveled with the baseball team to the College World Series, both times we left Omaha wondering what went wrong.

I like shooting baseball; actually I love shooting college baseball. To me so much more happens in a college game, its great for the fans, but even better for the photographer. Going into the 2004 baseball season at Cal State Fullerton, things looked outstanding on paper. The wheels fell off really fast to start the season, sitting at 15-16 on April 3, Titans ran off 32 wins in their final 38 games and made it back to the college world series.

On a balmy day at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, the Titans and were back in the championship games against former skipper Augie Garrrido of Texas. Now, I had shot some 40 NCAA Championships before that day, but this day was different: These were my kids playing in the big game not just names on a roster you pick up at the media room. I have seen these kids work at it all year long; I have traveled with them, ate with them and have watched them grow into one hell of a team during the year.

The Titans won the first game of the best of three championship series. I had put up remotes hours before game two to cover what could be a very special moment for Cal State Fullerton. Years before in 1978, 1984 and 1995 the Titans had won the College World Series but little or no photos are in the archives. Cal State Fullerton didn't have a team photographer or a budget to have one. In 2004 I would capture the winning moment for my client.

I had placed a very wide overall (foul pole to foul pole) and a normal overall (just infield) to get that moment with 2004 college logo around the batters box. I had it all planned out in my head, Cal State Fullerton was the visiting team in game 2, Texas would be last up to bat and I would get the dog pile from above as well as from my shooting spot from first base. My planning was working perfectly, Cal State Fullerton was leading 3-2 going into the ninth inning. I had my 12-24mm zoom on Nikon D2Hs around my neck and my 70-200mm zoom with a 1.4 tele-converter on another D2Hs. The Titans pitcher that day was Jason Windsor, he was a bulldog!

But on that afternoon he didn't have his best stuff as he faced Texas. As the bottom of ninth started I was thinking win, I did not want extra innings. Two outs and I was staying on Jason Windsor no matter what happened. I never saw Clark Hardman jumping up and down like a pogo stick as he watched the ball come down to Bobby Andrews in right field for the final out. I fired my foot petal to trigger the remotes and stayed on Jason. I had the first base umpire, the first base coach, the batter and first baseman all seemed to be lining up to block my shot of Jason on the mound.

As Jason reached his arms to the skies and teammates danced around him like the pied piper my shot was made. The photo shows some 15 players in it, not one of them blocked Jason's face. It was perfect! And Cal State Fullerton finally got their great photo of them celebrating their fourth College World Series victory.

I learned later that the Cal State Fullerton president’s wife wanted to sit in the radio booth where my remote cameras were placed. I was told later that she had placed her handbag on the remote cameras, which moved them out of frame. What is Rule #1 of remotes? (Answer: Never rely on them.)

The photo always makes me smile seeing the guys so happy. Jason Wndsor was drafted in the third round, Ricky Romero hugging Jason in the photo was a first round pick just one year later, Justin (Red) Turner is now playing for Baltimore, baby face Brett Pill is now with the Giants and Vinnie Pestano, far left in the photo, would two years later let me do a photo story on his Tommy John surgery.

The Titans will always be 2004 NCAA Champs and I'll always have this photo to remember that spilt second in time.


(Matt Brown is a freelance photographer based in Southern California. He is the co-founder of the Sports Shooter Academy workshops. You can see his work at his SportsShooter.com member page: http://www.sportsshooter.com/mattb and at his personal website: http://www.mattbrownphoto.com.)

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