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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2003-08-30

Leading Off: Memories of (Bobby) Bonds
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by
He was powerful, tall and lean. His good looks were topped by a hat tilted to the back of his head. He was a multi-dimensional player when sports writers of the day didn't know what multi-dimensional meant.

But it was a different time ... the front rows of ballparks weren't crammed with tank top-wearing goofs yelling "BONDS YOU SUCK!" A program and a hot dog cost two bucks and there were real fans in the seats, people who loved baseball --- not those guys you see now at games yelling into cellphone to look for them on TV.

This was the era of Bobby Bonds ... not Barry.

(Here's some stats for you: at age 23 Bobby in his first full season in 1969 with the Giants hit 32 homers, drove in 90 runs, stole 45 bases and hit .259 ... at the same age with the Pirates in 1987, Barry hit 25 homers, drove in 59, stole 32 bases and hit .261.)

In my junior year in high school the San Francisco Giants broke my heart and traded Willie Mays to the Mets.

(Musicologists think when Don McLean sings about "the day the music died" in "American Pie" he means the day Buddy Holly passed away ... the day baseball died was when Mays was sent to New York for Charlie Williams.)

But in the back of my mind I thought maybe the Giants would be ok because they had that kid ... the next Mays ... in right field. There was some hope. The Giants were turning the team over to Bobby Bonds.

When Bonds passed away recently, losing his battling cancer, I was working at the World Gymnastics Championships in Anaheim ... reading the news on the Internet. If this were 1968, I probably would have heard the news on a transistor radio, but times (and technology) change.

I sat there in the media workroom at The Pond, thinking back to the late '60s --- to Fresno, to my dad, John Euless Park and baseball.

It's funny how the mind works: I've been to most of the new ballparks but when I think about baseball, images of that crappy, rundown field across the street from Fresno City College pop into my head, I think about seeing "Chili Bowl" (Chili Davis) and "The Thrill" (Will Clark) hitting homers onto McKinley Ave. for the California League Fresno Giants.

Photo by
Then my thoughts go to my first visit to Candlestick Park with my dad and mom to see Willie Mays play in centerfield ... and "that Bonds kid" in right in 1968. I remember those early morning drives up Highway 99 through Madera and then over to 152 through Los Banos into Gilroy. I would kick and scream about getting up so early, but then Candlestick Park would appear off in the distance, then I would start looking around the back seat of the car for my baseball glove.

By the time Bobby Bonds was bringing in his young son to run around the Giants' clubhouse ... he was traded to the Yankees. For Bobby Murcer? The "next Mays" was traded for the "he next Mantle".

My love of newspapers and my love of photography are due to my dad and my mom. I was raised in a newspaper family, with my dad owning or working for small newspapers most of his life. In the 60s and 70's there was Vietnam and the "Cold War" but baseball was still America's Pastime ... the NFL wasn't on TV much and the NBA was what we'd call now a "cult sport".

We all played baseball then. We all wanted to play like Willie Mays. And then like Bobby Bonds. My love for sports is deeply rooted, like the love for my mom and my dad ... and so too is my love for photographing sports.

But these days I cringe when I read the headlines about the latest player George Steinbrenner has bought or what the Dodgers (underachieving) payroll is (about $120 million).

Bobby Bonds was a helluva ballplayer. I hope he is remembered for that rather than being known simply as Barry's dad.

Back in the days of Bobby Bonds if you yelled out "YOU SUCK" a police officer probably would have removed you from the stadium. I really miss those days ...

* * *

Anytime you work an international sports event especially held in the U.S., like the recent World Gymnastics Championships, you find yourself with hundreds of journalists from all over the world ... and you have to keep in mind that you not only have a job to do (like they all do) but you're a quasi-host as well.

For instance our workspace at The Pond was next to a pair of photographers from France and a group from China. But often not only languages clash, but cultures and work practices. It was difficult at times explaining to our visiting photographers that our high-speed Internet was for our use only and not something that was communal.

If you weren't careful, you'd find your workspace a their equipment storage area ... well, maybe some things aren't so different.

While most of the photographers from outside the U.S. went about their business like most of us "locals" there were some differences that give you pause.

After the Chinese men's team won the gold medal in the team competition, you couldn't help notice the Chinese photographers "jubing" with the athletes as they headed toward the mixed zone. The photographers high-five'd each other as well as the gymnasts and passed around their cameras to other people so they could have their photos made with the gold medal winners.

Is this wrong? In our country, that is a major breech of journalistic conduct. In China (and most other countries) it's not that unusual. These journalist think of the event not in terms of just covering it for their readers ... but as a shared experienced between fellow countrymen.

While talking to the press chief at the conclusion of the championships, she said the major problem she had in the press tribune (aka the press box) was foreign journalists openly cheering on athletes from their home countries. No matter what she did and how much the American writers asked for quiet, the cheering wouldn't stop.

At one point an East Coast columnist became so irate about the open cheering, he rose out of his seat and screamed for quiet. All this did was provoke a French writer to come up to him and start clapping his hands right in his face!

It was nice to hear that sports writers don't scream just at photographers to keep quiet in the press workroom.

* * *

Sports Shooter v.58 kicks off football season with a roundup of tips from some of the top grid iron shooters (did I really use grid iron?). The Photodude and Gary "Razor" Bogdon (debuting his new regular column)both give their takes on covering football. We also have reports from the PGA Championships by Johanna Miller and the World Gymnastics Championships from Max Morse.

So sit back, adjust the volume on Tower of Power playing on your iPod
and enjoy Sports Shooter v. 58!




Related Email Addresses: 
Robert Hanashiro: bert@sportsshooter.com

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