In the interest of sticking to the Tri-City Herald’s tradition of family-friendly content, I must start this post with a disclaimer.
I’m not planning to use any coarse language or paint any distasteful images, but I think it’s safe to hang this chapter with a PG-13 rating.
But it also promises to be one of my more colorful entries. :-)
It was the first week of September 2007 when the Dust Devils were waged in a battle for their first East Division title. I was in Yakima to cover one of the final games of the regular season.
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I remember the Herald’s interactive media department had just started giving these little hand-held video cameras to some of the reporters for the purpose of providing some quick sound bites to post on the website.
Then they made the mistake of giving one to me.
Now, I have considerable experience in the print journalism field, but virtually no experience from a TV standpoint. So I wasn’t quite so familiar with all the potential hazards of cameras in the locker room. I’ve never had any qualms about heading into the locker room after a game, but, as you might imagine, there are players in various stages of undress.
Therein lies the problem.
So there I went, wandering into the visiting locker room with the hand-held camera following a 6-4 win over Yakima at County Stadium. I managed to track down centerfielder Mike Mitchell in the training room and chatted with him for a few minutes. No problem.
I looked for Jordan Pacheco, an infielder who had just been called up from Casper, and found him sitting on a bench in the center of the locker room. So I knelt down next to where he was sitting and began my interview. What I didn’t fully realize was that right behind Pacheco was the entrance to the showers.
By that time, the players had noticed my brand-new toy. Before that, they had seen me bring only my trusty notebook and a pen with me into their private realm. This, however, they could not resist.
As I was interviewing Pacheco, I felt a newfound sense of chaos around me. I knew locker rooms could get a little rowdy, especially after wins, but this felt quite different. Pacheco, more the soft-spoken type, couldn’t help but smile as I tried to salvage what we could from within the maelstrom.
I remember commenting to him, “This was probably a mistake.”
You have no idea.
I couldn’t have picked a worse location if I had tried. When I got back up to the press box to write my story, I took my first look at the carnage I had helped create. It wasn’t pretty. In my embarrassment, I showed the video to Dust Devils radio play-by-play man Mike Boyle, who just groaned when he saw the resulting images.
As you might imagine, a circus of skin filled the screen behind Pacheco. Dust Devils players (who shall go unnamed) paraded around sans clothing in the background, knowing full well they were being captured on video. Common decency prohibits me from giving a detailed description of what was on the clip, but let’s just say that the good Lord blessed Mitchell with more than just good speed.
I wrote my story and headed back to Tri-Cities that night. Andy Perdue, the Herald’s Interactive Media Director, had requested that I put the camera on his desk so he could transfer the clips to the website. The next morning, ‘The Pacheco Video’ was already something of a legend around the newsroom.
If you’re wondering, out of curiosity, where you might find a copy of the video, the answer is: Nowhere.
In his infinite wisdom, Perdue deleted the video, which never reached the website. To this day, I believe the only people to have seen the video are myself, Boyle, Perdue and I think Eric Degerman, the online managing editor for Interactive Media.
It wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened. Since the clip never reached a point of public consumption, there was no damage to be done. All that remains is the rogue memory of ‘Dust Devils gone Wild’ and my own page in the Herald’s book of infamy.
And the promise that I will never bring a camera in the locker room again.