Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day, Pasadena Central Library, Pasadena, California, July 14, 2019
WOW not bad for my “quirky little hobby” as my dad Bill used to call it . . .
Like many people my age, I was a transistor radio kid of the ‘60s. With my little radio hidden under the pillow, I would listen to Vin Scully on KFI call the Dodger games. Vin would paint pictures of Connie Mack Stadium, Forbes Field, Sportsman’s Park, and Crosley Field as only he can. Even at a young age, I made up my mind to see these hallowed grounds for myself.
My first images of a park were in 1967, as a curious eight-year-old at his first Dodger game – Dodgers vs. Mets, Claude Osteen beat the Mets 2-0. I had a brownie camera with me and took two black and white images. I was on my way.
I graduated Fullerton Union High School in June of 1976. For my grad present, Dad piled Mom and I in our camper and headed to the northeast. Mom was from Lowell, Massachusetts, and had not been home in over 20 years. Dad was not a baseball fan, but he took the time to stop wherever there was a park and let me take a few photos.
We spent about ten days in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. On July 11, my parents and cousins went to see the Queen of England in a parade through downtown Boston. I got the better of the deal and went to Fenway Park. It was like Disneyland to this lifelong Red Sox fan. It was hot and humid, but I didn’t care. I was there watching Yaz, Rice, Dewey, Pudge, and the rest. Oh by the way, Lynn went yard in the first and Fergie Jenkins beat Bill Singer of the Twins 5-3. Seems like yesterday.
When I was in school, believe it or not, I was very shy and reserved. While on our trip, Mom talked to a guard at old Cleveland Stadium and got me in to take a few pics DURING a game. After that, Mom said KID you are on your own from now on! Little did she realize what she unleashed! The rest of the trip, I talked my way into Tiger Stadium, Comiskey Park, and County Stadium in Milwaukee.
Fast forward a few months to May of 1977. I was a freshman at Fullerton College, where I was taking a photo class. I called the then California Angels and used some college excuse to get a media pass. The Angels were playing the Red Sox.
I arrived for a 7:30 game at 3pm, got my pass and made my way to the field. SCARED to death. The first person I met was Fergie Jenkins, who is a camera buff too. We started talking and he put me at ease. I got to photograph and see my heroes up close. (I sat at the corner end of the dugout during the game so Zimmer wouldn’t see me). Fergie is still a friend some 42 years later.
From then on, I would take trips across the U.S. and Canada photographing these places.
A lot of my imagery is of long-gone venues that only live on through video and photos.
After 43 years and some 900 plus venues later, I have amassed over 75,000 of my own images.
It has been a hell of a lot of fun doing what I LOVE to do. I still have a lot more to shoot!
I would like to thank Terry Cannon and the Baseball Reliquary for this beautiful award and for recognizing my work.
Special thanks go out to Pat Kelly, the retired photo archivist at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, as well as the now former president of the Hall of Fame, Jeff Idelson. They took the lead in getting my images on display at the Hall and on their many traveling exhibits.
I want to thank my family and friends for being here today. My longtime friend for almost 50 years Howard Haberman and his new bride Debbie. As teenagers, Howard and I saw a ton of concerts and games at all the So Cal venues.
My sister-in-law Malissa, her husband Paul, and my nephew Evan, who got the ballpark and arena gene from me!
I’d like to mention a few people who are no longer with us. First my in-laws Joe and Louise, who helped me get my first pro camera and telephoto lens. They were amazing in-laws, and treated me like their own. My parents, Bill and Ronnie – they encouraged me (albeit as a hobby) to keep doing what I am doing. I got the travel bug from Mom. I know all four of them are looking down smiling.
Lastly, my partner in crime, my wife of almost 24 years now, Norine. We actually met and bonded over, you guessed it, baseball. I have dragged her to more ballparks and arenas than she can count. I love you!
One more thing: Malissa, Paul, and I will forever be teammates. We are all three cancer survivors.
If you have a dream or passion, GO FOR IT. Don’t let ANYONE put you down, or try to talk you out of it – they are jealous. You may get knocked down, and promised this and that which never materializes, but DON’T give up! YOU can do it.
Thank you very much.
Born in Inglewood, California, Bob Busser and his wife Norine currently reside in the Northern California city of Fairfield with their two dogs, Fenway and Crosley. Bob is the first photographer to receive the Tony Salin Memorial Award.