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|| News Item: Posted 2001-04-30

Leading Off: Baseball Reminds me of Great Times When I was a Kid
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/Sports Shooter
The smell of freshly cut grass and boiled hot dogs. The chatter of players as they play "pepper" up the third base line. The ping of the bat.

The PING of the bat?

I didn't realize how much I would miss baseball until I covered a college game a week after the start of the Major League Baseball season.

It was one of those simple assignments shoot a UCLA player who is leading the nation in hitting (.524). Of course he had an Oh-fer on the night. But I had a helluva time for 7 innings!

As many friends and colleagues know, I have been most passionate and critical over the MLB credential use agreement. But in that three hours at Jackie Robinson Stadium, just off the 405 highway, I realized why.

Photo by
Baseball reminds me of great times when I was a kid growing up in Fresno. Of listening to Lon Simmons on the radio "telling it good-bye" when Willie Mays hit a homer. Grabbing the Sporting News out of the mail slot before my dad had a chance to read it. And of those too rare times when my dad and I could go see a game together at Euless Park, home of the Cal League Fresno Giants. (It's where I first saw Jack "The Ripper" Clark and "Chili Bowl" Davis play.)

So it irks me both as a baseball fan and as a journalist that MLB wants to slap a document on us restricting how we cover the sport.

I realize the economics behind some of the moves, especially MLB's consolidating all of the teams Internet sites and their deal with RealAudio that essential cut off all "free" web casts of games. (Now I have to pay $9.95 a month to hear the Giants instead of just going to

But in a supposed "free society" where freedom of religion, speech and press is guaranteed, MLB telling me how we can cover a game and use our work or that I have to go to their crappy web site to get information on the game I love is, well un-American.

The expression "as American as baseball and apple pie" will no longer have the same connotation for me.

The longer this controversy dragged out, more and more things began to irk me.

Photo by
Like why was it an organization of sports writers (APSE) had to represent photographers in this issue?

Why couldn't we get our sports departments to not run wire photos from opening day (or longer) to protest these restrictions on our coverage?

How could the media accept "day passes" that had the same language as the credential agreement, but also say they would not sign the document?

And most importantly, how did we let our only leverage...boycotting photo coverage of opening day slip away?

Now that we've set the precedent that we will sign an agreement to cover the news, what's to stop this practice from escalating?

I will admit this: we have nobody to blame but ourselves for our plight. We've been accepting for years credentials that have restrictive language on the backs. We've just been telling ourselves "they don't intend to enforce this."

Well, baseball has.

* * *

Besides our coverage of the Major League Baseball credential controversy, we have two interesting articles on the recent Masters golf tournament, making "chicken salad" out of those less than robust digital camera files and news and notes.

And still no Mongo!

So sit back, set your VCR to tape "Son of a Beach", adjust the contrast on that monitor and enjoy Sports Shooter v.30!

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Robert Hanashiro:

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