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|| News Item: Posted 2001-10-25

My favorite was 70
By Martha Jane Stanton, San Francisco Giants

Just when you think it's gonna be a nice quiet year Barry goes berserk! I remember thinking in June that he'd never make it to September. No one ever stays that hot. Sure enough he'd hit a skid of 44 at-bats without a home run and then he stayed hot forever.

Photo by
We started gearing up for the home run chase around Sept. 9. They were thinking of sending my partner Andy Kuno to theHouston series. Well, Sept. 11 took care of that decision. I remember thinking then, "I'm never gonna go on another airplane as long as I live. Hell, I don't even want to leave my house." After they returned from Houston and play finally resumed, we hosted the Astros before going on the road to San Diego and LA. Our department decided to wait until he reached 69 before covering it on the road. So we sat patiently, watching from our living rooms. Nothing happened until they returned home to play the Padres. It was then Barry accommodated us with 69, in beautiful California light on a Saturday afternoon.

So the race was on. I got the nod to cover the rescheduled games in Houston. It was my first trip since my self-imposed grounding after becoming a mom 2 1/2 years ago. Luckily I have a great husband who was happy to stay home with our little girl while I went out to cover the chase.

Traveling on the team charter can be fun and can be a little nerve-wracking. There is a dress code and an informal seating arrangement that everyone adheres to. The dress code is slacks and jacket, which for a sports photographer can be a bit of a shock. You usually get comments from folks, who see you all dressed up, saying, "Gee, I didn't recognize you with your clothes on" or "Hey, your hair looks really nice." I suppose it's a shock to everyone else too. The seating arrangements for the plane are players in the back followed by the support staff in the middle and then coaches and VIPs up front.

On this trip, we were a little tight on space. Extra support staff and VIPs along with the Bonds family made the plane ride a little cozy. It was great to see Barry with his kids. Say what you will about the man he loves his kids and he's a good dad. He's the happiest with his family by his side and it was reflected on this trip.

As I boarded the plane, I was first greeted by Benito Santiago standing in the back with the crew. He reminded me of a distinguished gentleman who could pass for the captain greeting his people or perhaps a foreign diplomat. The next one I saw was Andres Galarraga with the biggest smile on his face. He was saying hello to everyone that passed by, as if he was a little kid taking his first plane ride.

As I made my way down the aisle, I realized there weren't many seats left. So I asked Sonny Jackson, our third base coach, if I could take a seat in his row (coaches usually get their own row) and he said sure, no problem. The rest of the flight was uneventful, which was just fine, since flying after Sept. 11 would never be the same. > > One of the nice things about taking the charter was we never had to step foot inside the airport. Buses took us from the park to the plane and from the plane to the hotel. Cheating ,you say? You bet. I'll take that anytime.

Another great feature about traveling with the team is that transportation to and from the park is provided. No hassle with parking and schlepping your gear from lord knows where. I caught the early bus on the first day to check out Enron and get the lay of the land. I was greeted at the park by Houston Chronicle photographers Smiley Poole and Karen Warren (Robert Seale's better half). They helped me out with showing me the park and different remote positions. After spending the past weekend playing photo marshal at Pac Bell, it was refreshing to be on the receiving end of the line. They were awesome to work with.

I soon realized that Houston was not a major media market and that Enron wasn't equipped to hold the onslaught of national media. I had my concerns, especially since my outside first position required me to stand up in front of fans when Bonds was at bat. Karen Warren assured me that it wouldn't be a problem and to the fans' credit, they were great.

Most photographers were all sitting around doing nothing until Bonds came up and then a whole lot of us would suddenly stand up, blocking the front row view and more to shoot one at-bat. At first they didn't mind. In fact, they didn't even care. But by the end they were standing, too, cheering on Barry to hit one long. It was very surreal.

Along with our local news photographers and the Allsport guys, I had the pleasure to shoot and hang out with the infamous Mickey Palmer. It was great to see this familiar mug on the road. There is no one more worthy than this man to be here, recording baseball history. He's been at all the others. I learned on this trip that Mickey has photographed every Super Bowl. And this year marks his 41st World Series. Enough said. Along with shooting beside him during the game, which was a hoot, he was my personal taxi for the after-game meals, They happened nightly with a group of 25-30 photogs in tow. These gatherings were my favorite part of the trip. They reminded me of being back at college with all the enthusiasm and cynicism permeating the late-night hours.

It took Game 3 of the series until we had something to write home about. Even then we weren't sure if we'd even get anything. The Astros were determined not to pitch to Bonds, even trailing by 7 runs with no one on. Even the fans were booing their team.

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin
Finally Bonds got something to hit in the top of the eighth inning. After firing a few frames on the first few pitches, we finally had something spectacular to shoot when number 70 went sailing into the seats. Barry knew it right off. He stood and took it all in. Thank God. With arms raised, it seemed like a slo-mo movie. Barry gave us everything we needed. His teammates cooperated by greeting him at the plate with sincere congratulatory hi-fives and a few jabs in the ribs. Mission accomplished. My trip was successful.

After a few hours of sleep, I was back at our park, dealing with the daily B.S. and longing for my anonymity at Enron. Friday night proved to be the best of times and the worst of times. Barry hit a record breaking 71 and padded it with 72, but it didn't seem special as 70.

Along with wearing those hideous black tops which graphically kills the image, he didn't seem to be as pumped for these home runs. Perhaps it had to do with being on the losing end of the score. All I know is, it didn't seem to be as exciting as in Houston.

We all prayed we'd get something in daylight, and in his first at-bat on Sunday we got just that - 73. Bonds almost seemed surprised by it, giving us all the Michael Jordan tongue as he headed up the first-base line. Though it wasn't as jubilant as 70, it made up for shooting on 800 neg. film in bad spring training tops on a Friday night. I personally felt reborn.

My favorite shots aren't the traditional ones, though they have their importance. They are the remote cameras that offer a bit more atmosphere. Some of them worked well while others didn't. The important thing was I tried to look at it differently. I wanted to show something other than a guy hitting a ball on bat. My favorite angle came from the backstop pole, just under the Fox camera. I had been looking at this shot on TV for most of the season and I always loved it. So I thought it would look great as a still.

What amazed me about this image was that Jeff Kent standing in, foreground (while on deck), was sharp along with the rest of the image (which covered most of the field to the scoreboard). Also I wanted to have the "BARRY 71" banners that ran down the light stands because I thought it was part of the story. Overall it was my favorite image, along with 70 coming down the line.

So I'm looking forward to a nice quiet year next season, but there's something that tells ya you can never be sure. Let's just hope they don't do something stupid like go on strike or get locked out. Then I may be wishing for the days of Barry.

(Martha Jane Stanton has been the San Francisco Giants team photographer since 1990. Martha can be reached via email at:

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