February 20th, 2012

2/20/12-Something Historical-Herb Scharfman-Spring Training 1990ish


As I begin another Spring Training for the Dodgers, I can’t help but look back at one of the reasons why I am able to do what I do. Herb Scharfman was a huge part of my life every Spring Training until he passed in 1998. He is most known as the face between Ali’s legs in Neil Leifer’s legendary photo. I knew him as a straightforward, no BS man with a great personality and a great love of the Dodgers both Brooklyn and Los Angeles. Back in the day of manual focus, he would come up with image after image of game action that I had trouble getting. He sat in what I called the death zone at Holman Stadium right next to the opponent’s bat rack. Home plate was at a perfect angle for Herbie to get taken out with any right hander’s foul ball. He would sit there and take it just waiting for his perfect moment for a play at the plate. While I would carry a 400mm, 80-200 and a 24-70 with my Nikon F2’s and F3’s, Herbie would have one body (FM2) and a 180mm primed for his play at the plate and time and time again he would outshoot me with it and come up with some beautiful plays at the plate. I can still hear him yelling at both team’s third base coaches “Send the damn runner!” I learned so much from Herbie during our endless drives down to West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale. Back in those days I-95 did not go through so it took forever to get to turnpike to get back on I-95 to the Braves/Expos complex and even more painful to Fort Lauderdale where the Yankees were trained. To ride with him in the his golf cart through Dodgertown on game day will always be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences I ever went through.  One of my favorite times was prior to our home games at Holman Stadium when Herbie’s friends Mickey Palmer, Johnny Iacono, Jerry Wachter, Ron Modra Jack Billetti et al would come to have lunch with Herbie at the Dodgertown Dining Room. They would swap stories and laughs usually right up until game time.  You are missed Herbie…..© Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers