Thursday, June 23, 2011

State Baseball

The last month or so has been a blur. Six day work weeks, 100+ hour time sheets, a set of new tires and thousands and thousands of frames of high school baseball.

And it was fantastic.

Baseball is huge in this part of the state. I don't think we've had a local football team make it to state in decades, but just about every year the Coastal Bend has a team in the state baseball tournament. This year we had three, one in 5A, one in 4A and one in 3A. We also had a private school repeat as state champs in their league.

Leading up to state, we had tons of teams in the hunt during playoffs. With a staff of only three full-time photographers and only a handful of stringers, our resources were stretched thin. What made it all the more challenging was I didn't shoot baseball at all during the regular season. Maybe one game. Suddenly I'm thrown into game after game of high-stakes action. I had to shake off the rust pretty quick.

A highlight was definitely the state baseball tournament. Our chief photographer traveled to Austin to shoot some of the opening games, and I came into town to help shoot the final title games. I shot some assignments on a Thursday in Corpus Christi, then drove to Austin that night so I could be ready to go first thing Friday morning.

When I got into town it was almost 10 p.m. I was checking into my hotel when I got a call from our chief photographer. The Thursday night game was going into extra innings and deadline was quickly approaching. He needed some back up or he'd either miss the end or miss deadline. So I jumped back into my car and made it to the stadium just in time for the 10th and final inning. I didn't even have my media credentials yet, but never underestimate the access you get when you carry a really big lens and walk in like you own the place.

As soon as I got onto the field, I started second guessing myself. Is this the best spot? Should I move? Am I gonna miss the moment? How do I shoot baseball again? By the end of the inning my nerves were shot, but it all worked out when I got the celebratory shot as one of our local teams advanced to the state finals.

I still didn't have press credentials though. I wasn't going to bother fighting to get in the press box when I was on such a tight deadline. So I ran back to my car, fired up the laptop, and sent in my photos from the tailgate of my Honda Element in the parking lot. Good times.

But the joy didn't last long. All three of our local teams fell short of the state title. The reality is that most teams will go home disappointed. That means I got a lot of sad player photos this season.

So baseball season is over, and I've got my weekends and a little bit of stability back. But I know I can't get too comfortable. Football season will be here before I know it.