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|| News Item: Posted 1998-10-21

The Quest for 62
By H. Darr Beiser/USA TODAY

After the excitement of #61 I was convinced he would not hit #62 the very next night. I was getting myself psyched up for a trip to Cincinnati, figuring he would break it there.

I was working centerfield with a 600 and 1.4 extender, shooting 125th @ 5.6 on a DCS520. Moments before he came up for his second at bat, I got a text page from Julia (Schmalz, USA TODAY's sports picture editor) saying that they needed a shot of his next at bat for special edition ASAP, regardless of what he did. For some reason I had it in my mind it would be an out.

But thank God, I was still on the swing. Luckily my timing was good and I got the ball just off the bat and in the second frame, his bat was way up in the follow through, with a little motion because of the 125th shutter speed. But still I didn't think it was a homer. Neither did Mac and he
watched to make sure it went out, which it barely did. That is why his reaction wasn't as good as the day before, when he raised his arms right away.

So I was stunned. I could not believe I was seeing what I was seeing, but just kept firing away. I was just so dazed I wasn't sure I would have anything until I edited the disk. Fortunately it all worked out.

I definitely did not feel like I was just shooting another baseball game. I knew I was watching history and felt the appropriate pressure.

When we got to the ballpark on Saturday we did not have credentials. I guess they had decided not to credential newspaper photographers unless they showed up, so we got in any way. So we did not have shooting positions either. But because of good relations with Rich Pilling and with lots of
schmoozing I got into the center field position, which was key.

When he hit 61, even though it was a day game, we needed to transmit quickly. But I had to be in position for any subsequent at bats in case he hit 62. I edited on the PowerBook at my spot in centerfield, and after his second at bat, I ran back to our editing area to transmit. Fortunately,
Michael (Madrid, a USA TODAY news picture editor) was there editing his disk and I asked him to hook up my PowerBook and send the photos.

Then I ran back to my spot. I got there just as the batter ahead of McGwire in the order was at bat. I was freaked as I climbed over a fence and into my spot. But the batter made the third out of the inning and I could take a
deep breath.

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