Here’s a note from sports editor Don Shelton about Jim Bates, a longtime Seattle Times photographer who was passionate about shooting and documenting high school sports. Don was in preps for 21 years before becoming sports editor and worked closely with Jim during that time.
You can find Bates’ obituary here.
And here’s what Don Shelton had to say:
Jim Bates, who worked at The Seattle Times as a staff photographer, died Sunday afternoon after a long battle with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He was as much a part of our Sports staff as the photo staff and will be greatly missed.
Jim was a guy whose passion for high-school sports always came through. He loved being assigned to prep events, whether it was a rainy football game, a basketball game in a sweaty gym or a wind-blown baseball game. Jim shot them all – from Gridiron Classics to Class 3A and 4A boys and girls basketball championships in the Tacoma Dome. And he loved every minute of it.
His absolute favorite event to shoot was Mat Classic. He loved high-school wrestling and the state championships in the Tacoma Dome – with 16 matches going on simultaneously – was something he could never pass up.
He’d always come back with the right photo of the right athlete or the right moment, a difficult thing to do. He was a gem.
Jim was a gentle man, but you didn’t want to try to stop him from getting a picture. One story illustrates how passionate he was about shooting prep sports. He was assigned to photograph a state championship football game a few years ago at the Tacoma Dome and an overzealous security person blocked him from shooting the team celebration after winning the championship. Jim showed his press credential and kept clicking the shutter. The guy yelled at him, put his hand in front of Jim’s camera and finally pushed him before getting a response. Jim and the security guard ended up going belly to belly on the field, but Jim got the picture.
For Jim, it was about doing the job he loved no matter what the conditions. He never complained. Again and again he did an often difficult job with grace and a smile. If you love high-school sports and good photography, you loved Jim Bates.
His passing reminds me of another soft-spoken guy named Jim who was a prep icon at The Seattle Times. Jim Reding, our longtime high-school sports coordinator and another dear friend, died eight years on Thanksgiving Day in 2004 of a heart attack. Just like Jim Bates, JR’s passion for preps was unwavering. He and the other Jim worked together for many years. The death of both Jims leaves a huge hole in our staff at The Seattle Times. I miss them both greatly.