Tag Archives: photograph

The Oscillating Fan of Learning

Many years ago, when I was not so knowledgeable about baseball’s past, I was looking through a book and found a picture of old Forbes Field, where the Pittsburgh Pirates played their home games before moving into Three Rivers Stadium in 1970. The black-and-white photo showed a game in-progress as seen from the right field seats; what caught my attention was the obviously phony image of a skyscraper in the background, poorly crammed into the existing photo by some overzealous artist who didn’t care at all about realism.

I mean, c’mon! Was I supposed to think the ballpark was located in some empty section of downtown, where only one skyscraper had been built? It reminded me of those postcards I’d find in gas stations during vacation drives across the Midwest, showing a rabbit with antlers or a man standing next to a strawberry the size of a semi truck. I mean, pretty ridiculous, right?

Well, very ridiculous, I’d thought…until I found out the building was real! As I eventually discovered, Forbes Field was located next to the University of Pittsburgh campus, and the building in question was—and still is—known as the Cathedral of Learning, a 42-story steel-and-limestone monolith that’s home to over two thousand classrooms, labs, and administrative offices. And it did indeed tower menacingly over the left-field side of the ballpark as the photo depicts, and though I’m now aware the building actually exists, I still have a hard time believing what I’m seeing.

Anyway, I’m mentioning all of this for two reasons. The first has to do with an SP78 game I played the previous summer here in Arizona, at the living room table of my apartment. As usual during the summer months, it was quite warm outside, and being on the second floor, my place tends to attract the heat more so than usual, even with the a/c running. Not wanting to sweat all over the day’s festivities, I brought my desktop fan out from the bedroom and set it up next to the game board…and immediately realized how closely the scene resembled that photo of Forbes Field I’d seen years earlier:

Now, the second reason for this post relates to a photo I’d found that day years ago, which proved to me the existence of the Cathedral of Learning. I wanted to share this photo with you, because to me it’s one of the coolest baseball photographs I’ve ever seen, taken during the seventh game of the 1960 World Series between the Yankees and the host Pirates. Take a good look at the photo below; besides the obvious awesome vantage point for watching a game, look at where these fans are standing, and how close they are to the ledge…and there’s no fence or rail to hold them back!

A bygone moment from a bygone time, that sadly we’ll never see again…unless, of course, you visit my apartment in July, and watch me play a game on my living room table, where my Oscillating Fan of Learning still towers over—and cools—the SP78 playing field below it.

The First SP78 Photograph

As surprising as this may sound, I played nearly 12 years of my SP78 Replay baseball season before finally deciding to take a photograph of the game itself. The very first in-game photo was taken on June 23rd, 1992, during a trip my friend Steve P and I took to San Luis Obispo, a small college town located on the central coast of California; the self-portrait below took place that night in the room of the Motel 6 where we were staying.

It was the only SP78 game played during our trip, and this was the only photo taken of the game. What’s strange is, Steve didn’t take part in the festivities, either as an opposing manager or as a spectator; you can’t tell from the photo, but he’s fast asleep in the other bed, to the right of the camera frame, where he’s missing out on a May 26, 1978 match-up between the Reds and Padres, won by the Reds 5-3 in 11 innings.

And if you’re wondering what that large, white something is that’s blocking a good portion of the photo, it’s the top edge of the television where my camera was perched, high up on the adjacent wall. In the days before digital cameras and their small viewscreens, I had to trust what I saw through the viewfinder; thus, I ended up with a photo that wasn’t quite as unobstructed as I’d hoped. And since I was shooting with film, I didn’t have the option to take thousands of photos on a media card, so I only took this one shot, and hoped the image would come out okay.

Now, I have a digital camera and a cell phone for my SP78 picture-taking needs, and within the coming months I’ll be adding the dozens upon dozens of game-related photos I’ve taken over the years to the site, which you’ll be able to find by clicking the Photo Gallery dropdown at the top of the main page. Until then, enjoy this shot of me in my 29-year-old prime, leading my favorite team to victory while wearing a Cubs cap and enjoying an ice-cold can of vending machine Pepsi.