Fact: You schlep for the official Cubs photographer, you go everywhere and meet everyone. I’m Cubs photographer Stephen Green’s assistant on this night, July 19 at Wrigley Field. It’s a sweltering evening with dark gray skies threatening rain, and the Cubs will soon take on the Astros in the second game of a three-game homestand, which isn’t too thrilling considering both teams aren’t doing so well. But tonight is special, for two future Hall of Famers in Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens are going head-to-head on the mound. It should be a good game, but there’s work to be done, photos to take. There’s also a lot of downtime between photos.
5:47 p.m. We race up to the media entrance to greet U.S. Olympic softball pitcher Cat Osterman and her entourage: Mom, Dad and friend as they are guests of Wilson, equipment supplier of the Cubs. Green escorts them down to the field, while Osterman talks on her cell phone. Dad’s eyes grow wider and wider with each step toward the field. Mom tells her daughter to “Turn the cell phone off now!” Green is to take a portrait of them with Cubs GM Jim Hendry.
5:52 p.m. With no Hendry to be found, Green tells me how he found it too difficult to photograph children when he first started out. “I’m horrible at it. My wife is great at it.” Just then he zips away to catch a few shots of Carlos Zambrano, signing autographs.
5:56 p.m. Hendry has appeared and Green leads him over to Osterman and her crew. Green waits patiently for introductions and idle chit-chat to seize before snapping a posed shot.
6:07 p.m. We seek refuge from the sweltering heat in the Cubs locker room with third baseman Aramis Ramirez, closer Ryan Dempster, Clubhouse Manager Tom Hellmann and starting pitcher Greg Maddox, briefly watching portions of an L.A./Cleveland game on one flat-screen T.V. and a Brewers/Giants game on another.
6:20 p.m. In the Cubs dugout Green talks 16-inch softball with singer Meat Loaf, who is on hand to throw out the first pitch. Green knows some of the players are going to want a photo with Meat or Mr. Loaf, so we linger.
6:22p.m. Relief pitcher Will Ohman emerges from the locker room to chat with Meat. Green gets a photo of the two, and one of Cubs video guy Ed, who resembles Mr. Loaf to a tee.
6:24 p.m. Green and Sun-Times photographer Tom Cruze analyze a batting practice baseball.
6:30 p.m. Green stops to chat with Cubs legend Billy Williams.
6:37 p.m. Green talks with NBC 5 broadcaster Bob Sirott, who is on hand “just hanging out.”
6:42 p.m. Green takes a walk down to photographer’s row, a field box north of the Cubs dugout, and talks with Chicago Tribune photographer Nuccio DiNuzzo, a fellow Oak Parker.
6:47 p.m. Green can’t resist getting a photo of Manager Dusty Baker conversing with Meat Loaf in the dugout.
6:53 p.m Green takes a photo of the first of seven “first pitches.”
7:01 p.m. Mr. Loaf’s toss is high and tight.
7:05 p.m. Quick sprint up to the Cubs security room where Green gets more equipment to shoot game.
7:07 p.m. Green sits in second row in front of batter’s box, to get a good line on Maddux, who serves up a homer to Craig Biggio on the second pitch of the game.
7:09 p.m. Green steps onto the field between innings and snaps Cubs rookie Ryan Theriot warming up in the batter’s box.
7:25 p.m. In-between innings, as we move to the photographer’s box, I nearly collide with Cubs catcher Michael Barrett, who is simply on his way out to his position. The last person who collided with Barrett-White Sox catcher AJ Pierzynski-was punched in the face.
7:45 p.m. We move to a camera platform on the upper deck. I shoot myself in the foot, literally. I’m holding one of Green’s cameras when I feel the need to wipe by brow of sweat. I can smell my shoes burning already.
8:10 p.m. With the heat stifling and rain likely, we move to the WGN radio booth. Broadcasters Pat Hughes and Ron Santo greet Green with hellos and warm smiles, even though they are on the air. He gets some photos of the game while kneeling between them.
8:25 p.m. We munch on hotdogs in the cool confines of the press snack bar, where a few of Green’s photos are on display.
8:30p.m. We move to the announcer’s booth and chat briefly with the organ player Gary Pressy.
8:55 p.m. The sprinkle of rain has stopped. It’s back down to the photographer’s field box where we close out the game. Cubs end up losing 4-2. But the pitcher’s duel is a good one. Roger Clemens earns his 343rd career victory, and Greg Maddux pitches seven innings without a single walk.
The very next day, Green is back at his office to do it all over again, but of course without his bumbling assistant.