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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 1998-10-21

The Quest for 62
By Gary Hershorn, Reuters

So there I was in Moscow of all places, on a trip with President Clinton wondering will I or won't I get to see Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run. I suspected with McGwire at 54 home runs while I was in Moscow on Tuesday and Wednesday September 1st and 2nd it would be simple to get through the President's trip to Russia and Ireland, fly back on Air Force One on the night of Saturday September 5th and then fly to St. Louis on Sunday to make the Cardinals home game on Monday. That was until McGwire hit four home runs in two games in Miami. Home runs 55-56-57-58. I must admit I started to sweat.

On Thursday that week I worked through a 25 hour work day that began in Moscow at 1am Ireland time and ended in Dublin 25 hours later. On Friday, dead tired from the previous day, I scrambled around with the help of Tim Aubry in our Washington office and found a flight home on Saturday from Shannon Airport in Ireland, an airport that just so happened to be a 20 minute drive away from the hotel I was in on the Clinton trip in Limerick. My flight got me back to Washington around 7pm and about 12 hours later I was flying to St. Louis to make a 3pm afternoon game. Upon landing in Washington on Saturday I heard that McGwire that day had hit home run number 60. I considered myself very lucky to be back in the US and able to make the historic home run.

Sunday I arrived in St. Louis a few hours before the game, checked in at the hotel and then went to the ballpark. All I can say is thankfully McGwire did not hit a home run that day. I don't know where my mind was but it was anywhere but Busch Stadium. With the jet lag and 7 hour time change I was half asleep all afternoon. Every time McGwire swung I pushed the button on the camera but I must have been about and hour late on each swing because there definitely was not a bat anywhere near the ball in the pictures I took.

Monday I was feeling much better after a long nights sleep and McGwire hit his 61st home run. The day started with a wonderful press conference with McGwire and Sammy Sosa. They joked and laughed and showed everyone how much fun they were having in the home run record chase. It just seemed right that they were playing against each other while McGwire had the chance to
break the record.

The record tying home run was a thrilling moment but shooting from the first base side I could not have been in a worse position for the blast from a photographers point of view. As with almost all of his homers, he hit it to leftfield and looked in that direction the whole time he ran down the first base line. I felt an electric excitement in the stadium that day. I was also happy he only tied the record that day preferring to add one more day to this amazing story. Going into the game, so many people hoped he hit two home runs and put and end to the chase of following him around. I thought it was only right to tie it one day and break it the next.

When McGwire hit number 62 the next night I didn't feel the moment was as electric for me as it was when he tied it. This is probably because the pictures were so much better for 61. The home run was his shortest of the year and he was almost at first base before he realized it went over thefence unlike the day before when he reacted instantly at home plate after hitting the ball. It just seemed like another long out at first. Another reason for the less than completely excited feeling Iwould normally have, was I think deep in my mind I was thinking about being more relieved I did

When McGwire hit number 62 the next night I didn't feel the moment was as electric for me as it was when he tied it. This is probably because the pictures were so much better for 61. The home run was his shortest of the year and he was almost at first base before he realized it went over the fence unlike the day before when he reacted instantly at home plate after hitting the ball. It just seemed like another long out at first. Another reason for the less than completely excited feeling Iwould normally have, was I think deep in my mind I was thinking about being more relieved I did not have to get into a van and drive for five hours to Cincinnati for a game there the next day. I must admit that walking into the stadium all I was thinking of was that he had to do it tonight, he just had to

I guess I will always remember those two home runs. As a photographer I wish I had a better picture of the historic swings. Again first base is not the best place to be for a guy like McGwire hitting home runs but am happy with the pictures I shot after he hit the ball. I fully expected his
teammates to carry him off the field after 62 but that did not happen. I also wished I could have thought of a more interesting way to shoot a picture of a guy swinging a bat that hadn't been shot before. But then when it really comes down to it, no paper is really interested in seeing that. The follow through on the swing always seems to suffice.

So as I write this I find myself back at Busch Stadium covering the last six games McGwire will play this year. I still haven't made it home since my 12 hour turnaround after landing from Ireland. I have been to Los Angeles, Las Vegas for events and did a four game stand in San Diego with Sammy Sosa. That I enjoyed immensely and the grand slam he hit there was also a thrilling moment to witness. I sure hope McGwire hits at least one more home run so I will be able to photograph what should be the new record setting home run.

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