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|| News Item: Posted 2001-07-27

What in the Hall Is Going On?
By Jon Soohoo

Photo by
I've been asked by my employers to attend and photograph the festivities at Cooperstown this August in honor of a man who has meant a lot to the city of Los Angeles. No, it is not for the playing ability of either Dave Winfield or Kirby Puckett but instead for the Los Angeles Times baseball columnist Ross Newhan.

There is a very special wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown set aside for writers and broadcasters. It is an honor to be asked to cover Mr. Newhan's special day. But it lead me to an important question: Where in the Hall (Not Hell) is there any acknowledgment of the importance of still photography and its photographers in any Hall of Fame?

Baseball's past is documented mostly by still images, not television. This is truly documented in the Hall of Fame. How else could the museum exist? What would the Baseball Hall of Fame look like without photographs?

What would baseball be without still images taken by such greats as Barney Stein, Herb Scharfman, Ozzie Sweet, Jack Billetti and other crafty photographers who paved the way for all of us while shooting on those old 4x5 cameras?

I once brought this to the attention of the former Director of the Hall of Fame, who I met when Tommy Lasorda was notified of his induction. I asked him why there wasn't a wing or part of the other journalists' wing for the photographers. His response was that there was acknowledgment of photographers with the annual Hall of Fame photography contest.

"You've got to be kidding!" was my response.

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin
I asked him where his museum would be without still images? Do you know who these were taken by? The answer was "No". It dawned on me that no one has probably ever asked him that question before. He proceeded to blow me off with a "I'll look into it" response. And that was that .

It also dawned on me how anyone gets elected into the Hall of Fame: They are voted in by the prestigious Baseball Writers of America. This extremely organized group is how baseball operates its publicity machine.

Have you ever noticed that teams do not have writer credentials as photographers do? Instead they have BBWAA membership cards that allow entrance to any park in any city.

Have you ever noticed how much better writers are treated than photographers? Have you ever seen a beat writer not be a card-carrying member of BBWAA? It is not possible.

Think of all of the time and energy these writers and broadcasters put into the passion called baseball and the amount of their lives spent at the yard. Certainly sounds similar to what some of our greatest photographers have put in. But because our profession is so ruthlessly competitive we will never have an organized union that represents us all that could get any of OUR founding fathers in to any Hall of Fame.

It would probably help if there were "beat photographers" for news organizations. Than we could probably unionized. This would be the closest thing to organized we could get. How likely is this? Not!

Our future endeavors will most likely go through this web site. Sports Shooters is read from coast to coast. It is free and informative and every SS is allowed to contribute.

If this is "Forum" material I would love to be a part of the dialogue.

(Jon Soohoo is the Los Angeles Dodgers team photographer. Jon photographs all of the Dodger road games and most of the home contests with a Nikon D1. His pictures are posted on the Dodger's website shortly after every game ( Jon can be reached via email: Jon's website is:

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