I recently had the good fortune of being asked to photograph one of my favorite players of the past, Billy Hatcher. You’ll likely remember Billy for his seven consecutive hit streak of the 1990 World Series, when the Reds swept Oakland to win the championship. That was an incredible time to be a Reds fan. The “Nasty Boys,” “wire to wire” and one of the most exciting managers to watch, Lou (base kicking, tantrum throwing) Piniella.
Billy was a constant gum chewer. He’d chew bubble gum all the time and he played in the outfield. When a ball was hit to him, he’d subconsciously blow a bubble as the ball would approach. It was fun to watch.
Since the All Star Game was being hosted in Cincinnati this Summer, MLB decided to do a series on the all stars of the Reds and Hatcher was one of the first. Fortunately for me, they found me (via Google search) and had me photograph Billy at the Great American Ballpark, home of the Reds. The object of the assignment was to capture Billy at his place of work in casual attire, yet in a heroic pose. Why the Reds ballpark? Ahh, Billy is the first base coach for the Reds. So, with a security clearance and amid a rigorous travel schedule, we scheduled the shoot around many obstacles. The only time available was Noon, which is never a good time for an outdoor shoot. So, we packed the lights and headed for the ballpark.
We met the Director of Media relations, an old classmate of mine by chance, and went to the field to set up. We were given the rules of what was allowed on the field, what wasn’t and why by the head groundskeeper. Hey, if I had multi-million dollar athletes at risk on my field, I’d have a lot of rules too. After setting up amid the dos and don’ts and testing, we were ready for Billy. We had bubble gum ready for his enjoyment (and possible prop) and we waited. Billy being the great professional, he came right on time and ready for the shoot. And what a nice guy. No airs or attitude. Just a nice, normal, friendly guy. I can’t say enough about Billy and how gracious he was and the pleasant experience photographing him was. It’s especially nice when your heroes act like you you’d like them to.
The next post is what happened after the Billy Hatcher shoot… more good to come.