Thursday, September 6, 2007

Thats it, the season is over...

“People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

~ Rogers Hornsby

I could fling the similes and metaphors but... thats it. Wham! Season over. End of story.

Well it was one heck of a ride while it lasted. 2 and a half months of baseball, hot dogs, peanuts and sodie pop, fans' cheers and applause and the national anthem performed almost every time by someone different and usually pretty darn well.

Sunny days turning into lit up nights with grown men swinging sticks and throwing balls and running in circles. Heroes... and clowns, teachers and students and 3,500 or more friendly neighbors rooting the hometown boys on. Its quite a phenomenon this game of baseball and Eugene is lucky to have grand old Civic Stadium in which to play at our local version of this grand old game.

Thanks to Bob and Bryan Beban for letting me, a stranger to them and really, just some old long-haired guy who virtually just wandered in off the street, come into their home and practice my craft. Special thanks to the Padres' Denis Savage for running that ad on Craig's list. Thanks to Rid and Flo, Vazquez and Jimmy, the boyz in the press box, Steve, Steve, Steve and George, the fans who have wisecracked with me or sat patiently while I pointed my camera their way. Props to you all, it was a hoot.

I admit professional sports had made me a cynic about the whole spectacle of grown men playing games competitively. Heck, I can't afford to take my kids to see a Mariners game or the Seahawks, the Blazers... and if I could... I'm not sure I wanted to support the salaries that have gone beyond real. Celebrities with egos that are uber inflated, that really are no different than any of us, had managed to distance me from them. I remember as a kid how wrapped up I became every year in following the Lakers, checking the box scores, hiding my portable transistor radio under my pillow so I could listen way past my bed time to Chick Hearn painting a mental image of Jerry West and Elgin Baylor faking opposing teams into "the popcorn machine," slaying the evil dragons of the east, the Celtics, the Knickerbockers, the 76ers...

But as money took over sport it seemed to become less fun for me. But... watching Greg Riddock and his crew all these beautiful summer evenings at Civic Stadium... sigh... my faith may be renewed. We'll see.

And on a final good note... to quote the governator... according to Bryan "I'll be back." So hopefully I will see you all again next June for another season of summer spills, thrills and yes, heartaches.

Keep watching the blog here (and don't forget to occasionally stop in and share a donut at my other blog, the Morning Donut. I've got plenty of pictures to share through the coming months and I'll keep posting them. If there is someone on the team who you haven't seen here drop me note and I'll find some pics and post 'em. And... as always, these images are copyrighted © and while I'm more than willing to share I also have to raise my kids. Prints... I will always, gladly, sell, contact me @

Enjoy your winter folks! Peace...

... oh yeah... here are some more images, from the last game of the season, enjoy:

Hungry fans line up for pre-game feed and one happy young fan posing with Andy Parrino

One of the little Ems fans' favorite games, the Prince Puckler Ice Cream toss, and the crew that keeps our playing field looking great, Casey, Joe, Dave and Mark

The Ems' fans (with some Salem-Keizer fans mixed in...), Greg Riddoch with the Ems' batboys, Scott and Trevor

Bryan Beban doing the play-by-play on 1120 AM

The guys in the Press box, Steve Mims, Steve Wolf

George McPherson and Steve Brown

And finally... Jose Flores, Ems hitting coach and Greg Riddoch, Ems manager

Thanks all!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And more pics...

When they start the game, they don't yell, "Work ball." They say, "Play ball."

~ Willie Stargell

Wow... the Ems are on a real skid. They got blown out last night after holding a 5 run lead for the first 5 innings of the game. 13 - 6... ouch. I feel for the boys, I really do. But one must keep things in perspective after all. The Ems are the rookie short season A league team and they've had over 50 roster changes this season. Catcher Mitch Canham is already gone in a short stay here in Eugene. Ray Stokes has been out since early on in the season...

These young men are learning at a level beyond anything they've encountered to date and it is an intense experience where baseball happens virtually every day... its a tough grind and I'm sure team chemistry is a tough thing to maintain when guys keep coming and going with such regularity.

The Emeralds are a farm team of the Sun Diego Padres and the Pads are in 2nd place in the Nat'l League west. Salem Keizer, NorthWest League leaders, a farm team of the SF Giants, lead the NWL and have had very few roster changes... of course the Giants are in the cellar of the Nat'l League West, 12 games behind Sun Diego... so... hey, its hard to argue with the successful end results at the top of the chain. Lets see... hmmm... short season, A league champs or contenders in the MLB race? Tough choice for a professional sports organization.

There is just about a week left of baseball for the Ems and I'm going to be posting many more pictures in the next few weeks (I figure I've shot well over 2,000 images for the Emeralds this season and there are plenty I haven't posted here, some real good stuff. So here is today's offering, enjoy (and if you're interested in reprints,

"Voice of the Ems" Russ Eisenstein's last hurrah as he leads the 7th inning stretch singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in his last game at Civic Stadium before heading to Idaho to be the "Voice of Idaho State" & Matt Latos multi-tasking... chewing gum and running the radar gun...

Joe (top) from the groundskeeping crew races his brother Matt (maybe thats why Latos has the radar gun?)

Greg Riddoch and Jose Flores... thanks you two for making me feel at home while I've sat perched with camera in hand on my step by the dugout! It truly is my pleasure to have made both your acquaintances. Kellen Kulbacki in a play at 3rd that is about as close as it gets.

Seth and Katrina

(L to R) Lexia, Frankie, Tanya, Angie, and Coleton...

Nate Stewart, Ems' athletic trainer

And finally, the Knights of Columbus color guard... thanks gentleman.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mat Latos...

" What are we at the park for except to win? I'd trip my mother. I'd help her up, brush her off, tell her I'm sorry. But mother don't make it to third."

~ Leo Durocher.

At 6' 6" Mat Latos is a formidable figure on the mound, even at only 19 years of age. At 215 pounds he's got some weight to throw into those pitches as well when he launches a fastball with a velocity that is consistently in the mid 90s. He's one of the top pitchers for the Ems and another in a team full of fan favorites.

Mat's stats don't show what he is capable of... with an ERA currently at 4.05 and a zero in the win column he has been impressive most of the time, a couple of bad games hurt his ERA and some missed bullpen support have cost him games in which he should have been able to record the W. In just over 46 innings he has 60 strikeouts and only 17 walks... His arm is solid, he's one of the Padres top picks and he has a bit of a reputation for his sense of humor.

A right-hander, Mat was an 11th round draft pick of the Padres in last years draft.

Here's Mat viewed through his pitching motion:

As always all images are copyrighted, permission is required to reproduce, either through me, MadFriars or the Eugene Emeralds. I am more than happy to sell any prints of any images posted here to Ems fans. Contact me at:

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Me and Luis...

Speed is a great asset; but it's greater when it's combined with quickness - and there's a big difference.

~Ty Cobb


As a fan of the Ems I've been attending games for the last 5 or 6 years, mostly w/ one or both of my kids.

This year, somehow, I am the Ems photographer. I work with a Pentax *ist DS digital camera and 2 lenses. Primarily for the sports work I use my 50 - 200mm Pentax zoom lens but on occasion (like the team picture this year) I use my 18 - 55 mm Pentax zoom. Ideally I'd have a longer and faster telephoto without the zoom, a 300mm or longer... but those puppies are spendy. Maybe next year.

Back when I was young... and we only had film... I owned fixed lenses (wide angles, telephotos) that were top of the line because of lens quality and speed. I was nervous about digital because it meant new camera gear. I was raised on film and had used it for decades. And I'm always leery of new technology. After I had taken about my first 500 or so images I knew digital was for me. No film, no processing... in that 500 image space I had saved enough from not having to buy film and pay for processing and I could see them right now!

The art and business of photography has not changed, the manipulation of the camera in achieving a desired (or often accidental) end work remains the same. F stops and exposure... focal length and film speed (ISO)... its all the same. So now I have Civic Stadium and all its thousands of people as my task to visually record. And that my friends, from this photographer's view, is pretty darn cool indeed.

So now in 2007 I am an Ems fan armed with a camera and decades of developing my eye and technique. And this year's team is a fan's delight. Loaded with talent, the Ems are chasing 1st place Salem-Keizer, a real good and tough team to beat. One of the reasons for the Ems success is the always exciting Luis Durango:

Listed at 5' 10" and 145 pounds Luis Durango is about as quick with the bat as any batter I've seen. When he is at bat the defense knows who Luis is and what he can do and what he does. He bunts , bloops and blasts. He can drop a bunt down either line and be to 1st base before the play is even close or he can rip one over the outfield in the holes for extra bases. The infield plays in for a bunt and he bloops singles over their heads and in front of the outfielders. Which means he gets on base. A lot.

Last week Luis was number 3 in the league with a .353 batting avg, he was #1 in total hits w/ 47, he was #4 in on base percentage at .430, he was #3 in runs scored with 30... and he was leading the league in triples with 5 (thats those over-the-outfielders-heads blasts!). And to go along with all that, credit Luis with 2 homers and 14 RBIsAnd he is a burner on the bases. Luis' uniform is usually dirty before the end of the 1st inning.

So here in pictures is the Luis Durango of the Ems' first half of the 2007 season (and as always, these images are copyrighted, reprint w/ permission only). Enjoy the pictures. Better yet come out to Civic and cheer Luis and the boys of summer on! Its a great tradition and a wonderful family experience. Baseball, on a summer's eve? Nothing better...

Monday, July 30, 2007

Of Ducks and Ems...

A game of great charm in the adoption of mathematical measurements to the timing of human movements, the exactitudes and adjustments of physical ability to hazardous chance. The speed of the legs, the dexterity of the body, the grace of the swing, the elusiveness of the slide - these are the features that make Americans everywhere forget the last syllable of a man's last name or the pigmentation of his skin.

~Branch Rickey

Just a few pics for today. The U of O Duck showed up to throw out the first pitch in Sunday's game against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and I've posted the promised pic of Jonathon Stewart riding a tricycle. Brian Lauderdale's mom showed up in the press box and I was honored to meet her... nice to see the family side of the game, Lori is proud of her son and glad he has Greg Riddoch as his manager. Mitch Canham is out w/ an injury so this is a non-playing shot of him at the dugout between innings; Greg Riddoch coaches 3rd and gets lonely... And of course, more kids...

The Duck does baseball; Jonathon Stewart in the tricycle race

Lori Lauderdale

Isabel snacks and baby Kolbi hangs out on Dad's arm

Mitch Canham........ Riddoch waits for company at 3rd