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Matinee: Cubs Photographer Stephen Green Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

19 August 2017

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 201st in our series of Saturday matinees today: Cubs Photographer Stephen Green.

Rain delays have figured prominently in the career of Stephen Green, the Chicago Cubs official photographer since 1982.

As he told Bianca Silva in an interview earlier this year, he was on duty when the Indians scored three runs off the Cubs' closer to tie the game in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the World Series last year.

Then the heavens opened up over Progressive Field in Cleveland.

Green, who had been shooting the game, followed the Cubs back the visitors' clubhouse. But he sensed this was a moment when "you shouldn't be with them."

The Cubs held a meeting among themselves that righted the ship. And, after a 17-minute rain delay, they went on to win the game in extra innings -- and, along with it, their first championship in 108 years.

But that, unbelievably, still doesn't rank as the most significant rain delay Green has experienced in his career.

It's a career, he tells Matt Baron in this 2014 interview, that began as a one-year project for a thesis on Wrigley Field which, he hoped, would win a scholarship to grad school at the Art Institute of Chicago.

You have to put yourself into a position in which luck happens in front of you.

He was given access to the park and the team by the Wrigley family which was honored by the Tribune Company, which bought the team. He didn't get the scholarship but that didn't stop him. Working as a waiter at night, he attended games during the day when they were all played during the day because Wrigley had no lights.

He made a lot of friends that year and, at the end of the season, when the team photographer retired, he was offered the job.

He came from a fine arts background and hoped to be a documentary photographer, perhaps a street photographer, he says. So he had to learn sports photography. And it wasn't easy. Especially in the era of shooting unforgiving film transparencies for publication.

He describes a typical day at the park, which starts a few hours before the game. He tells Baron that he listens to music as he works to be able to focus on his work.

He can go places the fans can't but his responsibility, he says, is to be the eyes of the fans. To see what they can't see.

His fine art training educated his eye, he says, as he describes running along the upper deck to the other side of Wrigley to capture a gorgeous sky that developed over the stadium one evening.

Walter Yost gave him the greatest advice he ever heard. Nobody is ever lucky. You have to put yourself in a position where luck happens in front of you.

He tells a few stories about the players, too.

The last story he tells, though, is about the rain delay that changed his life. This time the heavens opened up over Wrigley Field.

And, once again, a miracle occurred.

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