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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2001-10-25

Bonds Chase for 71:
Not Happening in Houston!

By Jeff Haynes, Agence France-Presse

Photo by Jeff Haynes/Agence France-Presse

Photo by Jeff Haynes/Agence France-Presse
Hit by pitch. Walk. Walk. Walk. Single. Walk. Walk. Unintentional intentional walk. Walk. Walk. Unintentional intentional walk. Walk. Walk. Pissed off Houston Astros fans. Up by seven runs walk. More pissed off Astros fans still up by seven runs . Rookie fireball fastball pitcher and finally Barry Bonds in his final at bat in a three game series, a pitch to hit!!!

It wasn't a game-winner but it was the first pitch he had seen in three days. And boy did he see it heat in his wheelhouse. If I remember correctly: 455 feet, way deep right off the bat, no doubt over the wall homerun. And the Astros fans cheered for the wrong team, the wrong guy. I will never understand that.

I'm not sure if that was the exact way all of those walks by the Astros went, but it sure seemed like a lot. This is the second time I have covered the homerun record chase, first with McGwire and Sosa in St. Louis. And I will be honest, I was like everyone else in the photo well in Houston that had covered the last one, it just didn't seem the same.

First we were in St. Louis- a baseball hotbed with very knowledgeable fans who don't cheer for the other guy even if it is the loveable Sammy Sosa or you want to see history, your team is trying to win the Division. But we were in Houston, a great new stadium to watch a baseball game and not too bad of a place to cover the game.

Talking to some others that covered Bonds up to 69 it was just boring and after seeing the pictures of 71, 72 and 73 I think we got the best reaction on number 70.

After walking down to first base for three straight days Bonds finally got his pitch to hit and tie Mark McGwire with number 70. Boy did he react: hands up at the plate for way too long ("I know the buffer is going to fill I know it is," is all I kept thinking) and then down the line, one finger pointing in the air, clapping his hands, rounding the bases and down to home plate, where his son and teammates greeted him, arms stretched out high in the air pointing skyward.

Next came slaps on the back and hugs from teammates that probably don't even like Bonds but had to respect what he had just done. Then into the dugout to come back out for a curtain call and greet the Astros fans that should "NOW" cheer and clap for him but not before. But as he walks out, up the first two steps of the dugout and onto the field. Who is there to greet Barry Bonds less than two feet away from him, face to face? "NO". You were thinking a TV cameraman.WRONG!

It was his cable puller!!!

Just Barry Bonds and the no-name, work-for-hire, told to stand in front of anyone he wants, don't listen to anyone but your cameraman. I have my cloves. I'm in my oldest dirtiest tee shirt, ugly shorts and tennis shoes that I have worn for six years and most important, I can wrap cable into a circle better than you can.

Photo by Jeff Haynes/Agence France-Presse

Photo by Jeff Haynes/Agence France-Presse
"Professional Cable Puller". That is who greeted Barry Bonds right after his record tying homerun. NOT Sammy Sosa but the f**k ing cable puller. I have to figure he was also in every television shot from every camera angle there was even the cameraman's cable he was holding. So I'm sure the producer fired him and said go find me another no-name work-for-hire, told to stand in front of anyone he wants, don't listen to anyone but your cameraman, I have my cloves. I'm in my oldest dirtiest tee shirt, ugly shorts and tennis shoes that I have worn for six years and most important: I can wrap cable into a circle better than you can "Professional Cable Puller".

If you would like a different version (but I'm sure it will be the same version of this story) all you need to do is ask Jed Jacobsohn from Allsport. I have seen Jed mad once before in his life (well maybe it was more like shock, but that is a whole different story and one that I would like to forget) but on this day Jed and I were feeling the same pain from that stupid cable puller.

So after it was over, a total of four minutes tops. Well three days of walking before that. Now it was off to the darkroom running up the steps through the crowd and back down the steps to the darkroom - and yes I can still call it a darkroom because someone was doing film - to move as many pictures of Barry Bonds. And I can say that this is one of the times that all four of the positions made good pictures.

After three day of walks, one pitch, one homerun and lots of quality time with my friends in the first base photo position it is over. Bonds is on his way home. One homerun short of the new record leaving us with lots of good pictures of him hitting number 70.

As people packed up some said "No way will the Dodgers throw to him" and "He is stuck on 70". Well I guess everyone knows that Chan Ho Park doesn't understand English, because what we in Houston waited for during those three walk-filled games, Park delivered in the first inning the very next evening.

Just another quick note in passing: In case some people haven't been lucky enough to shoot a game at the home of San Francisco Giants and meet team photographer Martha Jane Stanton and her partner Andy Kuno, it is one of the best places to be greeted by the team photographers who know what people need.

P.S. Martha it was real nice talking to you during all of the walks. I hope your wide-angle non-star filter picture worked out!

 (Jeff Haynes is the Agence France-Presse Chicago Bureau Manager for Photos.)


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