So by listening to this podcast, you’re obviously into some form of personal or self-development. If that’s the case and I’m labeled into that category, I understand how that group gets a bad rap sometimes. And I felt that way in the past before I was in there. It’s like it’s the whole rah rah, rah, everything’s always great. You can always do it. Everything turns out great if you keep going and it can feel kind of demoralizing when you’re struggling, when things aren’t going well, it’s very easy to think, well that’s good for you, that works out for you. But for me or for people like me, it doesn’t work out that way. It seems like with these people, there’s like a magic touch and it always comes out good in the end. So I think a lot of people become impatient with their success or their lack of success because they listen to so many people that say, if you just do it, it’s going to work.
And so often they fail to talk about all of the disappointments and the failures and the opportunities that did not work out before it actually did. And so often when you’re in the beginning it takes so much more time to get there that it does later on cause you haven’t figured it out yet. And so many people quit in those beginning tough stages because they’re seeing all these other people that are having success. It seems so much easier for them than it does for you and you wind up telling yourself, well, I’m really not built for this. I’m not wired for this. I might as well just get out of it before it becomes any more painful and go back to what I know which might be a job or doing something saver and convince yourself that it’s not for you. And I will say this if you don’t have the stomach for it, if you don’t have the stomach for the pain and the grind and the disappointments that are going to happen most, especially in the beginning stages, maybe it’s not for you.
But I can tell you, and I’m here to tell you today that with each thing you try, there isn’t always a silver lining or success at the end of it. Now there might be a great story but maybe not what you would consider a success. So what I love about doing this podcast is I get to rack my brain and continually remember events and things. In the past that happened as I was leading up to where we’re at today. And even though I am not in the world of photography anymore, many of my stories relate back to the photography career. And the reason why I tell him, cause it’s not about photography, what I’ve found is it’s such a relatable field. So many of the people that listen to this, so the stories often are transferable. So I thought about the story that I’m going to tell you today.
After a while I was able to laugh at myself in this situation. But it took a while to feel that way. So I want to take you back to the summer of 1998 if you’re a baseball fan at all, you might remember that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa run a home run tear that year. And it was obvious by June that one or both of them might break the all time home run record for a season in major league baseball. At the same time. Later on that summer I would be leaving New York and my freelance jobs with the world wrestling Federation and the associated press to go back to to Ohio university, get my degree in communications. I, along with millions of others, got wrapped up in this home run chase in late August, 1998 I was still in New York packing up quite literally to go back to school a little more than a week later when McGuire st Louis Cardinals came into New York to play my team, the New York Mets and McGuire came in with 49 home runs one away from being the first player ever to have 50 home runs in three straight seasons and only 13 away from the all time home run record.
So me and my brother and a bunch of friends took the subway into Queens to watch the game. Hopefully they see some type of history and we weren’t disappointed early in the game. Mark McGuire crushed his 50th home run and in a rare scene got a standing ovation from the Mets crowd as a visiting player. And that night he went on to hit his 51st home run as well. And I went home and I pack some more and I started getting really excited because I was driving to Athens, Ohio to start school. And I saw that in early September, the Cardinals were traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio to play the reds. And if all went well, Mark McGuire could possibly break the home run record in Cincinnati. And being a photographer that’s always looking for access in history. So a chance that I possibly could photograph, record breaking home run.
And I got to Ohio and it was labor day and I watched on television why I went to a bar locally as McGuire hit his 60th and his 61st home run, tying Roger Maris for the most home runs hit in a season and he was one away and there was only one more home game for him in st Louis before they traveled to Cincinnati. So on my first day of classes at OU, I rushed out of my evening class to get back to my room to watch that game and just hope that McGuire did not hit a home run because if they could just shut him down that night, I would be driving to Cincinnati the next day, cutting classes on only my second day of college there to hopefully photograph that game or rushed out of class. And I went to a restaurant that was right near the building and the game had started and I checked the score and McGuire didn’t Homer in the first day and I’m like, Oh, I’m only a couple at-bats away.
And I went back to my room and I grabbed my dinner. I sat in front of the televisions, McGuire stepped up to the plate and the crowd cheering like crazy and everybody wanted him to break the record except for me. Well actually I want him to break it just not then. And I believe on the first swing you’d land a hard drive into left field and it was hit hard but it didn’t look like it was going to go over the fence and it kept trailing and trailing. I kept thinking just to hit the wall, get a double and let’s move on. And I watched the ball dip and it just dipped right behind the fence and just like that Maguire broke the record and my heart dropped as fast that balded behind the fence and I knew I wasn’t photographing history but I still had a ticket for the next two games in Cincinnati and this has become such big news nationally that was like I should go to Cincinnati still in photograph has first back cause it’s going to be the first at bat on the road after he broke the record and that might be almost as great of a moment anyway because he’s going get a standing ovation from the crowd is going to lift his helmet up and when the history is remembered, I’m going to have a photograph from that time.
So I got out of my classes early in the day. I cut my evening classes and I drove to Cincinnati nearly four hours away. Everything went smooth until I got caught behind an accident halfway between Athens and Cincinnati. Watch the clock and I realized it was starting to get really close. I was cutting it tight because we hadn’t moved for over an hour and finally it cleared up and I got it. The Cincinnati blues creeping up on game time and I still needed to park and get my gear and get into the stadium and sneak down to a decent spot, right? Get a good image. And I pulled up and I paid for parking and I knew what the Red’s batting first and McGuire batting third, just a few minutes after the game was going to start, was going to be that standing ovation. I parked farther from the stay and that I wanted to, but there was nothing close and I ran like you can’t imagine with my camera bag over my shoulder, across the parking lot, trying to get to the stadium to capture this piece of history.
And all I was listening for was the roar of the crowd because as long as I didn’t hear it, I was going to be fine. And I handed the usher my ticket and I was sweating profusely trying to catch my breath. And as soon as I heard the turnstile click, I heard the announcement announcing the new home-run champion Mark McGuire. And while I was underneath the stands, just walking in the stadium started to shake, was that loud of an ovation. And I ran through the dark Concourse trying to get a glimpse of a tunnel to get me in so I could see this and photograph it. And the ovation continued. It didn’t seem to stop. It went on and on and they clapped. As hard as I was running to get there and before I could reach a tunnel, I heard it die down and I hadn’t even gotten to the crowd for the ovation was over and McGuire got out and the inning ended and I was absolutely demoralized and exhausted from the entire day or the couple of days of trying to figure this out and get there.
And now I slowed down and walked into the stadium. I realized, well I missed that now, but I might as well get a picture of McGuire playing in this game. And I walked into the stadium and that’s when I looked at first base and I saw a different player than Mark Maguire walking to first base. And it turned out that Tony LA Russa, the Kardos manager, put McGuire in for that one at bat to get the ovation and then pulled him from the game and put his backup in. And I grabbed my seat and I slunk down. I said, you got to be kidding me. And I shot a couple of innings and I left to drive back to Athens and I never even saw Mark Maguire. But being young and stupid. The next morning I woke up and I said, I need to drive back the next day because I have a ticket and I’ve got to get a photograph of McGuire either playing or hitting a home run.
So I did it again. The next day I drove back to Cincinnati again, got caught in traffic, but I left earlier this time so I was fine. Not sure what was going on with the Southern central part of Ohio and traffic at that point of the year, but I went back. I’ve got to get that picture. I cannot come out of this empty handed again. Got my parking spot again, walked into the stadium vis time. I was early only to grab the program to see that Mark McGuire was scratched from the game and not playing to give him a night off. I sat there staring at the field and absolute disbelief and shortly after I drove back to Athens one more time and I came away from the entire experience completely empty handed, so you don’t want to be around me. When one of those highlights popped up from that magical year, because all I feel is frustration and exhaustion, and I tell this story to let you know that it does not always work out.
You are going to put your heart and soul into certain areas and projects. Absolutely nothing will come from it. And I don’t mean this to be a downer. I mean this to be a reality check that we don’t live in a microwave world here. It doesn’t happen as fast as you think it might. And if I would have quit then if I would’ve said, I’m not cut out for this. It’s too difficult. Even though there were times I felt like quitting. You need to be able to take the lumps when there’s no reward and keep going if it’s really what you want. So this isn’t meant to be inspiring. This is for those that are struggling right now. They’ve been hit with some losses and they’re feeling like they want to quit because it’s not working out. It’s not always gonna work out. But if it’s what you really want, don’t quit. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.