Baycats 20/20 Vision: The Past, Present, and Future: Backland Behind the Lens for Baycats

by Ryan Eakin

BARRIE - If there has been a memorable moment in Barrie Baycats' history, Brian Backland has been there to capture it.

A volunteer since 2002, Backland recalls how he became a volunteer quite memorably. 

"I do love baseball," said Backland. "You can ask anyone who knows me and they'll say I love baseball. I used to coach baseball starting back in 1993 when my brother was the manager and I was the assistant. 

"Around then was when I started my company called 'Backland Communications' and at the same time, I knew my brother was volunteering with this new baseball team called the Baycats. 

"I went and watched a few games and then John Donley went to their website and saw that their domain was expired. He got a hold of 'Millsy' [Baycats president David Mills] and he told him that his domain was expired. 

"He said he wanted it fixed so I did that for him and from there I started volunteering the next year because the way I looked at it, they were playing in a pretty high-level league and they were just budding as a franchise, so they needed some help."

When Backland became a Baycats volunteer, however, it was not in his role as the team's photographer.

"When I first started they already had a photographer in Bill Dobson. He was doing still-photography for the team, so I thought 'why not do videography?'

"So I started doing that and I actually have a lot of old videos as a result. I am going through a lot of it right now so that I can do some editing." 

Not that long after, though, Backland began shooting photos for the team.

And in 2005, he was the team photographer on the night they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in game six of the 2005 championship series to win their first-ever title.

Backland recalls that night as if it was yesterday. 

"The place was packed," recalled Backland. "There had to be at least 2,000 people at the park that night. I have never seen the place so packed, before or after that night.

"I just remember how difficult it was to move around the park that night," laughed Backland. "I had one camera at the top of the steps behind home plate and then my other camera on the field. Going back and forth between cameras took ten minutes.

"...The atmosphere that night was just amazing. Just to be apart of all that was simply amazing."

Backland said he does not have a favourite shot or two from his time with the Baycats.

Rather, it's certain action shots that he loves capturing the most.

"I take a lot of photos in a game -- anywhere between 200 and 600 -- and I then narrow it down so that I post the best ones, so when it comes to my favourite photo, I couldn't pick one, two, or a dozen. It is more the kind of photo I capture. 

"The ones I like the most are the ones where there is emotion -- where the runner is trying to slide into a base and where the defensive player is trying to catch the ball and get the runner out.

"I just really like the shots that show emotion and that is tough to get sometimes. Sometimes we forget about the fans but those are some of the best photos because some of the young fans in the crowd show a ton of emotion.

"Pitchers too have incredible emotion. I love posting the pictures where you can see a pitcher's emotion through the sequence of a pitch."

Backland -- a baseball and Baycats lifer -- said he would not trade his experience as a Baycats volunteer for anything, even on the nights where the audio is acting up and he is called up to help, or when the internet starts to act up and the press box no longer becomes a happy place as a result.

"I cherish all the memories that I have had over the years with this team," said Backland. "From the time I have spent with the team and its players to the executives and volunteers, there are a lot of memories there.

"I cherish all the memories. I love the interactions that I have had with the players when I am on the field shooting and I love all the conversations that I have had with Millsy, [Baycats PA announcer] Mike Clark, and [his brother and team statistician] Tim [Clark] when putting together the team program in the offseason.

"I think a lot of people just see the baseball side of things and think it's just a May through September type of thing but there's a lot more to it that a lot of people don't see and that is why I love the most."

Up next week in our "Baycats 20/20 Vision: The Past, Present, and Future," I will be chatting with Dante DeCaria and Ben Shulman, the voices of the Baycats.

To read and watch our entire series, click here.

For more information, follow the Baycats on Facebook and Twitter at @iblbaycats and on Instagram at @barriebaycats. 

Photo: Mark Wanzel