Grassroots Baseball—America’s Favorite Pastime: The B&H Photography Podcast


As any passionate sports photographer will tell you, there’s a special feeling that comes with covering game action that hooks you from day one. This was the starting point for our episode with Sony Artisan of Imagery Jean Fruth and longtime Sports Illustrated Director of Photography Steve Fine.

After building her career covering pro teams, Fruth co-founded Grassroots Baseball to celebrate the amateur game and grow participation at the youngest levels. For her latest book, Grassroots Baseball: Route 66, she traveled “America’s Main Street,” capturing young players in the same heroic manner as the pros and exploring creative camera angles under the beautiful light of a 4:00 p.m. start time. During our chat, Fruth also talks gear, noting how the eye detection and real time tracking in her Sony A1 enable her to lock onto an athlete in motion. For parents seeking to document their own young players, she recommends choosing the best gear to fit your budget, while also singing the praises of fast lenses, such as Sony’s FE 12-24mm f/2.8, FE 16-35mm f/2.8, FE 70-200mm f/2.8, and FE 400mm f/2.8.

As her longtime editor and an integral member of the Grassroots Baseball team, Fine weighs in on the three pillars of sports photography and the vital importance of cropping to communicate a picture’s essence quickly. In Fine’s view, great pictures are a shared accomplishment between a photographer and an athlete in a moment that cannot be repeated.

Please join us for this spirited discussion about Grassroots Baseball and learn how the aforementioned three pillars—peak action, an ensuing reaction (tears and cheers), and a sense of place—can be woven into Sports Photography gold.

Guests: Jean Fruth and Steve Fine

Photograph © Jean Fruth

Player with special cleats during Fall Baseball League 12U Tournament,…
Batter from St. Louis Brown Stockings Vintage Baseball Club, St. Louis,…
Pick-up game at the B Bar C Cattle Ranch, Claude TX
Blue Swallow Motel at dusk, Tucumcari, NM
Binger High School baseball team on the road, Route 66, OK
Player Gets a Haircut at Sony’s Barber Shop, Baxter Springs, KS
Fielding a pitch during Cardinal Tournament 16-U game, Mohave Valley, AZ
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, NM
Los Angeles Monarchs all-girls team huddle, Baseball For All, CA
Action at Home Plate, Purcell, OK
Young player throws to first base, Tesuque Pueblo, Santa Fe, NM
Player in the outfield with tractor and driver, Purcell, OK
Joliet Slammers play the River City Rascals, O’Fallon, MO

Guest Bios

Jean Fruth is a sports photographer and a Sony Artisan of Imagery. She has covered every sport from her earliest days, yet baseball holds a special place in her heart. After nearly a decade covering pro teams in the San Francisco Bay Area, she was invited to Cooperstown, New York, where she helped build the archive of the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum.

In 2019, Fruth co-founded Grassroots Baseball, a non-profit that promotes and celebrates the amateur game around the globe, with an aim to grow interest and participation at the youngest levels. Fruth’s true passion is telling the stories of the people and places connected to baseball through photography. Her first book, Grassroots Baseball: Where Legends Begin, was published in 2019; it was followed this spring by the publication of Grassroots Baseball: Route 66. Proceeds from both books benefit the Grassroots Baseball non-profit.

Book Cover for Grassroots Baseball: Route 66

Book Cover for Grassroots Baseball: Route 66

Book Signing with Hall of Famer Jim Thome, Baseball Hall of Fame Museum…
Book Signing with Hall of Famer Ted Simmons, Busch Stadium, St. Louis,…

After starting out as a sports writer in school, Steve Fine immersed himself in a photo editing boot camp at Sports Illustrated, where he learned from the masters. He then moved to the New York Times, where he worked the picture desk for sports, before being tapped to assist Kathy Ryan as her first deputy picture editor.

In 1992, Fine was lured back to Sports Illustrated to assist sports photography legend Heinz Kluetmeier after he was named director of photography. Fine moved into the D.P. spot himself when Kluetmeier returned to photography. After 17 years in that role, he became the inaugural picture and sports editor at the news-aggregating app Flipboard. Currently, he serves as a digital news editor/curator for the News Tab at Facebook.

Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: Jill Waterman
Senior Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Shawn C Steiner