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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2010-12-07

DOCUMENTING THE FREAK SEASON
Photo project on Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum develops into a book project

By Deanne Fitzmaurice

Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Deanne Fitzmaurice covered Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum throughout the 2010 season. Sports Illustrated ran a 9-page spread in their iPad edition and Fitzmaurice self-published a book, as well.

In February 2010, I drove up a road in Sausalito, Calif., to the home of San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, thinking about how I was going to convince him to let me photograph him behind-the-scenes. The shoot I was there to do was a quick one-time shoot but I was hoping for more.

In his first two seasons in the Major Leagues he had been selected for the All-Star team twice and won Cy Young awards twice. He had become a rock-star in the baseball world. Fans love him, not only for the unconventional way he pitches, but also because he doesn’t look anything like your typical pro athlete.

Long hair, introverted, he keeps his dog in the clubhouse with him, he has the body of a schoolboy yet he throws the ball 95 mph. Fans refer to him as “Our Timmy” and believe he can do no wrong. He was cited for possession of a small amount of marijuana during the off-season and fans just grinned and had T-shirts printed up that read, “Let Timmy Smoke.”

He has the nickname “The Freak” and I was genuinely curious about who he really is off the field. I was hoping he would let me photograph a glimpse of his world. Never did I expect the Giants would go on to win the World Series with Tim pitching and winning 4 of the 11 post-season games.

As he opened the door to his rental home which overlooked San Francisco and the Bay I had no I idea what to expect. I had never spoken to him before. He was wearing a sweatshirt with a hood over his head. His home was spacious and neat with a ping-pong table in the middle of the living room.

Throughout my shoot, he was extremely gracious and generous with his time. All the while, I was thinking about how I was going to make my pitch to him. He gave me a tour around his home and even stepped out of his bedroom window to climb up on the roof to admire the view. (I’m not sure what Giants General Manager Brian Sabean would have thought about that.)

As he was walking me to my car, we stepped out onto the front porch and I figured it’s now or never. So I said, “Hey Tim, say I wanted to photograph you behind-the scenes in Arizona next week when you arrive at spring training, maybe at your rental home there. Would that be OK with you?” Without hesitation he said, “Yeah, that’s cool.”

I contacted my editor, Nate Gordon, at Sports Illustrated and told him about our conversation. Once he saw the photos from the first shoot he agreed that I should go to Arizona.

I ended up making two trips to Scottsdale, one early in spring training, and one later when the actual games had begun. I photographed Tim and his friend playing video games at his home there, photographed Tim driving around in his Mercedes, eating fast food, hanging out with his dog, Cy.

I was always looking for little moments that revealed something about his personality. The shoot went so well, in fact, that I asked him if I could photograph him behind-the-scenes for SI throughout the season. He agreed and gave me his number so I could be in touch with him.

The thing that made this so remarkable is that Tim, as I discovered later, is an introvert who generally avoids the media.

Lincecum dominated the opposition during the first two months of the season and didn’t lose a game until the end of May. However, he was so focused on his game, the last thing he wanted was a photographer following him around. This led to an incredibly frustrating situation as I tried to contact him for the other things we had talked about, such as pictures of him on the road, and pictures of him with his Dad.

I think it had sounded like a good idea to him early on but once the season started, he began feeling overwhelmed with all the pressures and demands of the game and the media. So my text messages mostly went unanswered especially in August when he went 0-4. I was 0-8 in unanswered messages.

I decided to try to speak with him in person and hope for the best. He was somewhat reluctant but agreed that I could photograph him behind the scenes on the team’s September road trip to San Diego. So I asked him so what he does on the road, thinking he probably goes out with his teammates in the evening. He told me all he does is watch movies in his room. So I asked if I could photograph that and he agreed. On that road trip he pitched a great game, drove in a couple runs and put his team into a tie for first place.

I knew that Tim’s Dad, Chris Lincecum, was a big influence so I told Tim I needed pictures of them together. When I went to the condo in San Francisco and photographed the two of them together before a night game, I brought Tim a stack of 8x10 prints and he was very appreciative, asking if I had any more. He had recently moved into a new place and wanted pictures for the walls, especially of his friends and his dog.

Repeatedly referred to as castoffs and misfits, this 2010 Giants team made it to the World Series. I had a photo position next to the Giants dugout so I could photograph Tim in between innings as he pitched Game 1. I had been trying to reach his father, Chris, throughout the day to find out where he would be sitting so I could photograph him watching his son pitch the first game of the World Series.

Finally, I got a call back in the second inning and I had a chance to ask where he was sitting in the stadium. “Oh, I’m not there,” he said, “I’m at the bar next door to the ballpark. Makes me too nervous to watch so I’m just watching it on TV over here.” I had to have him repeat himself to be sure I heard him correctly. I quickly left my position and raced over to the bar and there he was watching “Our Timmy” on TV.

Photo by Pat Tehan

Photo by Pat Tehan

Deanne Fitzmaurice photographs Tim Lincecum on board a trolley car during a parade to celebrate winning the World Series Championship.
My editor had asked me to try to embed myself with Tim for the Victory Parade down Market Street. Turned out no media was allowed on the motorized trolley cars so I just planned to walk/run alongside Tim’s trolley throughout the 3 mile parade route. I got there early and found the trolley that would take Tim and another teammate through the streets, which estimated were lined with a million people.

By the time Tim arrived I had made friends with the trolley driver, event producer and someone from the Giants all who would be on board. I had just told the woman from the Giants I was going to be running alongside and that I had been following Tim all season, when she said “Oh, why don’t you just come up here and ride with us?” I don’t think she had received the memo about no media.

As we passed by my colleagues, photographers I have shot side-by-side with over the years, dripping in sweat as they chased after the trolleys, they just looked at me like wtf?

As I walked with him to his car, after he said good-bye to teammates in the clubhouse, he said that the thing that made this victory so great was that nobody believed they could do it.

I congratulated him on his season as I was saying good-bye and I said “Tim, I’m about 98% sure I know what the answer is, but I just thought I’d be sure. Is there any chance I can interview you about your season?” I really wanted his voice to go along with the photos for a multimedia piece. He had already told me about 6 times he didn’t want to do that but I thought “Heck, he just won the World Series, maybe he’ll agree now.” I was wrong about that. He said, “No I don’t want to do that, is that ok?” He really doesn’t like to talk publicly and said his knees almost buckled when he got up on stage after the victory parade.

I shot the last photograph of the season as he drove his Mercedes out of the ballpark with a backdrop of screaming and waving fans. Sports Illustrated ran a 9-page spread in their iPad edition as well as photos in the World Series editions of the magazine.

The day after the parade, while on a flight to Boston, I was thumbing through Sports Illustrated and struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to me about Lincecum. I told him about following Tim throughout the season. He looked at me in shock and said, “Why are you on this plane?” I thought he was going to turn out be one of those crazies we sometimes end up sitting with. He said, “You should be working on a book about Tim’s season right now.”

He really got me thinking and by the time I got off the flight in Boston I had a plan. I decided that I would self-publish a book. I knew if I went to a traditional publisher things would move too slowly and I wanted this book to be done in time for Christmas and while the fans still had World Series fever.

Here it is, a month after the victory parade and I have a website www.freakseason.com, a facebook page, a twitter account. I don’t yet have a book in my hands, but it is close. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that the book is coming out; KNBR Sports radio talked about it so now I better get the book done. It will be available by Christmas.

http://deannefitzmaurice.blogspot.com/2010/11/behind-scenes-with-tim-lincecum.html



Deanne Fitzmaurice is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer based in the Bay Area. You can see her work on her personal website: http://www.deannefitzmaurice.com/ and on her SportsShooter.com member page: http://www.sportsshooter.com/members.html?id=1050. She is also a co-founder of ThinkTank Photo: http://www.thinktankphoto.com/.

To order a copy of the book, go to: www.freakseason.com.




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