The good folks at Big Sky Press were kind enough to provide me with a review copy of Biggio: The Final Game, a photographic essay by Michael Hart. The book contains a forward by Larry Dierker and an afterward by Richard Justice. Hart's accomplishes a rare feat of photographic brillance because he truly captures all the emotions of that day, both for Craig and the fans. Because I got it as a PDF, I'm going to purchase a copy so I can see the true brilliance of the images—they're that good.
Dierker's forward is too poignant. His own personal experience with Craig, as well as his more objective observations from later in Craig's career set the tone for a book that is both a monumental tribute and an emotional roller coaster. In its closing Dierker's forward accurately predicted, for me, that "this photo journey of Craig Biggio’s last day on the diamond will elicit a few teardrops."
Hart's photographs capture everything from the very poignant moments between Craig and his family, to all of the lasts: hit, double play, AB, and time inside the lines. Having taken a class in digital photography this semester, I stand in awe of Hart's ability to capture everything that he captured in his 80 pages of photographs. Just about every page brought out another layer goosebumps.
The book was originally just intended as a gift for Craig's family, plus one for Hart himself to remember the day by, and one for his rep. With Big Sky's publication, it now stands a gift to everyone who admired our hometown hero during his twenty career.
It was truly an experience to savor. As Hart himself put it, the buzz in the stadium was so intense and so many people were trying to capture the moment for their own posterity that, " Camera flashes popped all over the stadium, so many in fact, that later...I realized they made a blue haze that I had to tone down, as if the energy was visible." Even without the haze, the energy and the emotion in so many of those moments was perfectly preserved. Thus, although the 90 or so pages are light on words, it took me nearly on hour to go through the book.
In the end, Richard Justice finally elicited that tear Dierker said would come. There was just something all too cathartic about completing such a beautiful tribute to a player whom I have been rooting for since I was cognizant of rooting for a baseball player; someone who I used to imitate playing pick up games with friends.
I think Justice states it perfectly:
When it was all over, Biggio said something about being lucky. He's wrong about that. We're the lucky ones.