That’s the basic formula for a good sports photo: you should have the player’s number, his face, the ball and the action. Some of these photos from an unknown baseball game at Capaha park sometime in March 1966 (maybe) have at least some of the pieces of the puzzle. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)
That’s easier said than done. Some shooters are better at it than others. I hired a kid named Allen Eyestone fresh out of Kansas who was one of the best sports photographers I’ve ever worked with. He had an uncanny ability to be just where the action was and to shoot images that were tack-sharp. Some of the guys went to sneaking up behind him and touching him with magnets to see if he was some form of robot.
How do you call what you can’t see?
There were nights in Southern Ohio when the fog would come rolling down into the valleys so thick you couldn’t see from one side of the football field to the other. I don’t know how the officials could call a game they couldn’t see. You couldn’t use flash because the light would bounce off the fog and all you’d have would be a bright blob. When the game was over, you’d drive back home with the door open so you could guide yourself by the line painted down the center of the road. Those were the nights you were happy to bring back ANYTHING.
Push, push, push that film
Shooting on fields so dark that the players should have had candles stuck on their helmets got me to experimenting with “pushing” film – using exotic films that I developed in the photographic equivalent of jet fuel to eke out as much speed as possible. In a day when the fastest normal film was 400 ASA, I would push mine to 3,600. Sometimes it would be grainy or contrasty, but it was the difference between a technically flawed photo or none. Sometimes it was pretty darned good.
This last shot has the ball (stuck deep in his mitt), the player’s face, the action (caught in mid-air) and almost his number. I like the line of cars parked in the background and the kid running along the fence with what look like a tire in his hand.
Scott Moyers did a story in Tuesday’s Missourian about Capaha Park Lagoon’s algae problem. This isn’t exactly a new problem. Here are some pictures from the mid and late 1960s when there was a cleanup campaign on. I’m not sure when they were taken, nor who the subjects are. A couple of the men look familiar, but I’m going to let someone else put names to the faces.
Lagoon dates to early 1900s
Scott’s story says the 3.5 acre lagoon was put in shortly after the property was transformed into a fairgrounds. The city acquired it in 1914. Generations of Cape Girardeans have enjoyed fishing, ice skating, duck feeding and even jumping into the lagoon.
Lagoon has become shallow
Over the years, silt has filled up the lagoon to the point that it’s only about five feet deep, about half of the 10 to 12 feet years ago. Algae grows in warmer, shallower water, particularly when the summer has been as hot as this year’s. The lagoon hasn’t been dredged in about 20 years, the story pointed out. What makes me uncomfortable is a comment from Mayor Harry Rediger, who said that the permanent solution is to come from the parks department’s creation of a strategic plan for the entirety of Capaha Park.
“Another idea is to change the concept of the lake a bit.” he said. “I can’t report on it just yet, because it’s still in the planning stages. But we do intend to fix that in some manner – it’s just that how it’s to be fixed has yet to be determined.”
When city officials start talking about making changes to something that’s been a part of the community as long as Capaha Park, warning flags start waving. I look at all the park amenities that we grew up with: the lagoon, Cherry Hill, the band shell, the train from the cement plant, the pool (oops, guess we can scratch that one) and I don’t see many things I’d change. When you hear the drumbeats for “improving” Capaha Park, better start going to meetings and letting your voice be heard. We know how Bloomfield Road has been “improved.”
November 2011 aerial of Capaha Park
Broadway and Southeast Hospital are on the right. The pool is empty, but not razed yet.