As I chatted with Andy Strasberg about his new baseball related venture called Fantography™, I couldn't help but hum Rod Stewart's 1971 anthem, "Every Picture Tells a Story."
In actuality, however, my musical recap of Strasberg's photographic venture may be best summarized as Paul Simon's Kodachrome mixed with a few verses of Take Me Out to The Ball Game .
Fantography™ is Strasberg's recently unveiled undertaking, whose goal it is to harvest centuries of baseball photographs and the wonderful stories that go along with them. These are the photographs, taken not by professional photographers, but by the fans, themselves.
Strasberg sees Fantography™ as the offspring of his five decade love affair with the sport of baseball, a love affair that is not unique to him, but is shared by fans throughout the globe. The project will allow fans to upload their personal baseball memories onto the Fantography™ website to be stored forever and shared with other fans of the game.
"It's more than just a box score," explains Strasberg, the former VP of Marketing for the San Diego Padres. "It's the love affair between a fan and the game of baseball as seen through the lens of a camera."
Strasberg's vision is to rescue these personal photographs along with the stories and memories that accompanied them from the shoe boxes, attics and scrap books of fans before they are lost, damaged, or destroyed.
"Some of the world's best photos are in shoe-boxes all over the world. Photos taken years ago. When that person passes, their belongings are not meaningful to others and are usually disposed of."
Strasberg added that since the advent of digital cameras most fan photographers do not print out their photographs, but either keep them on their camera or download them to their personal computers, never to be seen by the masses.
"When their computers crash, they are more concerned about saving their documents than they are about rescuing their photographs and they too become lost."
"This is why we are hoping to harvest baseball snapshots taken by fans over the last 100 years," explains Strasberg. "Photos that capture a poignant personal moment in professional baseball, be it major league, minor league, or Negro Leagues. The snapshot could be of a player, a ballpark or a mascot."
Strasberg traces the genesis of Fantography™ back to Cooperstown in 1958. "I have a picture that my Dad took of me on the steps of the Baseball Hall of Fame when I was 10 years old. It is absolutely the first photograph of my relationship with baseball."
Strasberg, a native of the Bronx, began bringing his camera to games at a very young age, while forming a well documented friendship with Yankee Slugger, Roger Maris. Through this friendship, Strasberg earned Maris' affection, who often referred to Andy as his "most faithful fan."
"I have this incredible picture of me and Roger Maris. The picture is framed perfectly with Yankee Stadium as the backdrop looking towards home plate."
When Strasberg went to college, he took a photography class taught by noted American photographer, Arthur Leipzig, perhaps best known for his photo essays on New York life in the 1940's and 50's.
"Even though my dream and my desire was to do something in the game of baseball, it was Arthur Leipzig who got me to focus at looking at the world through a lens like I had never done before. Because of that and my connection to baseball, I have a lot of pictures that explain to the viewer how much I love the game of baseball."
One of Strasberg's personal favorites is a picture of Hank Aaron taken by a ten-year-old boy as he's walking out of Milwaukee County Stadium. "It's out of focus because it's taken through the eyes of a ten year old who may be only four feet high, but you can tell how important it was to this child. That's what Fantography™ is all about."
The long range goal of Fantography™ is to collect enough snapshots and stories to create a coffee table size book encompassing 500-700 photographs to preserve for eternity the professional baseball experience of the fan from their perspective.
He sees Fantography™ as a photographic version of the Chicken Soup series.
"They are the personal photos and stories, for those people, but other people truly love to hear them. This will truly be an American story, with the focus on our National Pastime" he explains.
Strasberg reiterates that photos should be taken by fans who are not professional photographers and are not game action photos.
To participate in this baseball experience go to www.fantography.net and upload your photos. Each person submitting a photo should include a caption that describes the date, people in the photo and the story behind the photo.
Strasberg shared the video creation below which captures a sampling of the many photos submitted to the Fantography site.
Identification in order of appearance on video:
Bob Friend, Mickey Mantle & Roger Maris, Phil Masi, Rudy Regalado, Stan Lopata, Al Lindquist, Roy McMillian, Carl Furillo, Andy Strasberg (age 14) & Ted Williams, Gus Bell,
Red Kress, Joe Medwick, Tommy Holmes, Gene Conley, Roger Maris, Frank Robinson,
Jimmie Wallace, Bill Donavan and Warren Spahn, Mrs. Max West, Max West and Tony Cuccinello, Max West, Jim Tobin, Stew Hofferth, Bobby Thomson, Billy Bruton, Sibby Sissti, Rocky Colavito, Hank Aaron, Eddie Miller & Jim Tobin, Joe Pepitone, Gary Baker (Strasberg's best friend), Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Al Downing, Casey Stengel, Brooklyn Dodger PA Announcer, Tony Conigliaro, Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, Players walking across Comiskey Park outfield, Andy Strasberg, Jerry Casale.
Todd Civin is a freelance writer who writes for Bleacher Report , Sports, Then and Now , and Seamheads . He is also a supporter of, A Glove of Their Own , the award-winning children’s story that teaches paying it forward through baseball. The Joe Niekro Foundation is the most recent non-profit organization to join the A Glove of Their Own team and will earn $3.00 from each sale of the book purchased using the donor code JNF636 Joe Niekro Foundation .
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