Guilty Pleasures

Baseballs were neatly aligned within catcher Bobby Wilson’s equipment bag when I found it on the Arkansas Travelers’ dugout bench last June.

What’s your baseball guilty pleasure?

I have quite a few.

I don’t think the web site is a guilty pleasure, although I lose enough money every year running around the country shooting photos and video that it could fall into that category. It’s a business, as far as the IRS is concerned, but within that business I do have a few guilty pleasures.

Any professional sports photographer can shoot an action shot. Pitchers pitching, hitters hitting, we see those every day in the newspaper.

I try to create artistic images that depict aspects of the game not seen by the casual fan.

One "guilty pleasure" is photographing baseball equipment. Buried deep within the Digital Photo Gallery is this link, Miscellaneous Baseball Gear. The idea is to create "baseball art," for lack of a better phrase. These images you could enlarge to poster size and post in a den or memorabilia room. The main rule when shooting these photos is DON’T TOUCH. I want to photograph it exactly as I found it. None of those photos were staged. I haven’t sold a single one of these photos, but I’d like to think that some future baseball historian will see these and marvel at the primitive tools used by baseball players in the early years of the 21st century.

The VERY future Angels line up against an outfield wall at last January’s Quakes youth baseball clinic.

Another artistic guilty pleasure is on the page titled, Miscellaneous Baseball Youth Photos." Children and baseball go together like Florida elections and hanging chads. Both are a part of Americana. So I’ll go out to the Quakes’ annual kids clinic in January, or just keep an eye out before minor league games, looking for boys and girls who would make an interesting subject for a photo.

A lot of us collected baseball cards in our youth. I’ve been tracking down card sets for Angels minor league teams. It doesn’t look like anything exists earlier than the mid-1970s. My main dealer is Steve Green (not the former Angels minor league pitcher), who runs STB Sports. Steve also carries other memorabilia, such as score cards, game programs, and whatnot. I gave him a list of Angels minor league teams over the years and he was able to provide me with some programs and scorecards going back into the 1970s. He has serious collectors from all over the country who will use him to find other collectors interested in this stuff. If you look at my December 13 blog on the Jack Hiatt interview, the scan of Jack’s 1982 Holyoke Millers card was from a set I acquired from STB Sports.

I have in the closet some uniforms worn in the minors by Angels top prospects. Some went on to major league stardom, others went on to obscurity. One is a tie-dyed jersey worn by John Lackey with Lake Elsinore in 2000. It was a one-game promotion to raise money for charity. Many of these are "shirt off their back" promotions auctioned during the game; the winning bidder gets to come down to the field after the game to collect the shirt literally off the player. I took it directly to the cleaners and had it bagged without cleaning; the joke with Lack was that if anything ever happened to him, we’ve got his DNA so he can be cloned. I also have some Casey Kotchman jerseys, and one of Tom Kotchman’s Orem jerseys; one of these days, I’ll get them framed and put them on the wall together.

My wife came up with a nifty idea. She has small vials used for carrying makeup. She suggested using them to scoop dirt from the infields of the various ballparks in the Angels system. I have here on my office desk two vials with dirt collected after the final game at Gene Autry Park, the Angels’ old minor league complex in Mesa, Arizona. One was scooped from the mound, the other from in front of home plate.

I’ve run across other collectors of Angels memorabilia. One gentleman in south county collects Angels jerseys. I know an employee in the organization who collects information about people who played only one year for the Angels. I’ve been in the homes of Angels Booster Club members who have all sorts of memorabilia, some of it homemade.

And then there’s the bookshelf, but I’ll save that for another blog.

Feel free to post your baseball guilty pleasures.

This article is copyright © 2007 Stephen C. Smith DBA It may not be reprinted elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author. To obtain permission, e-mail Stephen at


One comment


    Ah yes, . . . .

    Every year I purchase a season package for two seats. It’s not that my last name is “Gates” or my backside is so wide; I like the option of having a friend join me on occasion. Otherwise, it’s just an empty seat. The other guilty pleasure is just sitting around for a couple of hours. In today’s world of CG-enhanced entertainment, wireless global networks and download-and-go podcasts, it’s nice to make time for some old-fashioned live action.

    I don’t collect much. Most of my memorabilia are associated with some story from the ballpark. For example, I hunted around on the Internet and found a card for one of the front office staff when he was a catcher for the Chillicothe Paints (Frontier League). I brought it to the game and had him sign it, much to his embarrassment.

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