It’s a New Ballgame for Stadium Photographers

New restrictions at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium have led some news photographers to fear the photographer’s worst nightmare: Missing the Big Shot.

Photographers are no longer permitted to dash across the front of the dugouts.

Anyone moving between the photo bays and vantage spots behind the backstop must use a tunnel beneath the stands.

That increases the chances of missing the home run swing or the bean-ball that starts the brawl.


“It’s going to be a pain in the rear,” said Associated Press photographer Lenny Ignelzi.

“It’s going to restrict us terribly,” said Dan Tichonchuk, director of photography for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

There is a newspaper dictum: If you miss the Big Shot, your competitor will have a perfect picture on his front page, and your editor will be furious.

The old, informal rule had been that quickly crossing the dugout was OK when there was no action.

The new rule was born when manager Jack McKeon looked up Tuesday while the Padres were losing their fifth straight and saw a Diamond Vision technician using the dugout phone.

McKeon emitted some blue language, and next day the front office decreed: No crossing in front of the dugout, ever, on pain of losing your credential.

A contributing factor was the proliferation in recent years of free-lance photographers shooting for baseball card companies.

Free-lancers commonly outnumber news photographers. With different needs and less concern for long-term goodwill, free-lancers have been known to saunter past the dugout.


The relationship between news photographers and free-lancers is that of ranchers and sodbusters.

No sooner was the rule announced but a news photographer upbraided a free-lancer for blithely breaking it.

There is hope that the forbidden-dugout rule will be lifted or modified when the Padres return home Friday, particularly if the road trip has been a winner.

Winning has been known to soften McKeon’s disposition toward photographers and other human beings.


What Price Fame?

Four decades as a lawyer and judge brought Gilbert Harelson respect. A 30-second local television commercial has brought him fame.

It began when Harelson mentioned to his golf partner, advertising executive Bill Bailey, that he could do Cadillac commercials as well as those other guys.

“I figured I might as well have some fun,” said Harelson, proud owner of a 1979 El Dorado with 145,000 miles.


Bailey took the challenge.

Harelson, 70, who retired from the San Diego Superior Court in 1986 and now works for a judicial mediation service, got an ethics-OK from the California Judges Assn.

The commercial (“I’ve judged a lot of cases . . . ") began airing several weeks ago. So did the joking.

Ribbing at church, ribbing on the golf course, odd glances at the judges’ lunchroom.


Funny letters (“Have you lost your mind or just your money?”) and gibes left on his answering machine (“Is this the home of Cal Worthington?”).

Harelson doesn’t see himself competing with Joe Isuzu or branching out to other products. Nor did he get rich.

In fact, Bailey said, Harelson did the commercial gratis, asking only that a donation be made to the Multiple Sclerosis fund.

Ahhh, That’s Life


That was then, this is now.

* The Assn. for Past-Life Research and Therapies Inc. completed its annual convention Sunday in Mission Valley.

Lots of talk about reincarnation.

I hear one conventioneer said it was the most fun he’s had in several lifetimes.


* When he was dumping Gloria McColl from the San Diego City Council, John Hartley blasted the idea of spending $170,000 in public money for a neon sign (“The Boulevard”) stretched across El Cajon Boulevard.

“A cosmetic quick fix,” he grumped.

So guess what Hartley is now using to provide an artistic touch to his City Hall office?

A framed, full-color picture of “The Boulevard” sign.