Saturday, May 30, 2009

Take me out to the... library?

This is the Cubs' year

The team may be hovering around the middle of the National League Central standings, but they're No. 1 at the Oak Park Public Library, where Stephen Green, the team's official photographer, has an exhibit of player portraits, and behind-the-scenes and Wrigley Field photos called "Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field" on display.

It's part of a larger baseball exhibit, which includes the National Baseball Hall of Fame inspired "Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience," a traveling exhibit for libraries. "Pride and Passion" runs through June 3, but baseball fan John Allen will continue celebrating the contributions of African-Americans in baseball with a film festival that runs through June 28.

Walking into the library gallery, a visitor might think they've stepped into the Cubs' locker room. The largest portrait, a snarling manager Lou Piniella, could make a visitor step back, but the eyes of Geovany Soto peering out from behind his catcher's mask draws them in.

"They're artsy and soulful," said Green, an Oak Park resident. "I wanted to give insight to the players instead of just generic headshots."

Green's favorite photo shows a double rainbow over Wrigley Field after a rain delay last year. It's representative of the feeling surrounding the Cubs and their winning ways before the playoffs last season, he said.

"It was one of those serendipitous moments you get after being there all the time," he said. "We all bought into the idea this was going to be a special season for us."

A lifelong Cubs fan who grew up in Wilmette and took the El to Wrigley Field many a summer day, Green still feels capturing moments at the ball park is a magical experience.

"Just being able to walk onto the field is still a privilege to me," he said.

Allen, another Cubs fan, is just as passionate about the history of baseball.

A girls softball coach at Oak Park-River Forest High School and a teacher of film studies and African-American studies at Trinity High School, he'll host a film festival focused on the African-American experience. Allen will provide a synopsis of each film and will foster discussion of the events depicted in the films.

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