10/30/2009 Jason Klinger

Dan Stephenson '76

  • pro dan stephenson
It was senior year. Daniel Stephenson '76 was lounging on the couch of the Phi Sigma Kappa house on West James Street when one of his fraternity brothers came trudging down the steps in a suit and tie.

"I asked him, 'What are you doing?' He says, 'I'm going up to campus for an interview.' These guys were all looking for sales jobs with firms like IBM, and I said to myself, 'I don't want to do anything like that.'"

So after graduation, Stephenson, a history major, set off for Boston University, where he earned a master's of science in video broadcast production in 1978. "I had no background at all, besides being a fan of television and movies," he says.

Stephenson has parlayed that love of TV and film into a 28-year career as head videographer for the Philadelphia Phillies. In that time, the man known as "Video Dan" has captured the team's highs and lows. He spends his days scouring the ballpark for stories to spotlight on Behind the Pinstripes, a 30-minute magazine-style show. Once the games start, he keeps his eyes peeled for those did-you-see-that moments that might make their way into the team's annual video yearbook.

By far, his favorite yearbook was 2008's The Perfect Season, which capped the Phillies' run to the World Championship. "This is the one that had the ending I've been wanting to do for quite a while," he says.

Stephenson's route to the Phillies organization was a circuitous one. Stephenson was running his own video business in Philadelphia and tending bar on the side in 1982. One night, Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler walks into the bar and strikes up a conversation. Stephenson tells Wheeler his day job is shooting video. Wheeler says the Phillies are in the market for someone with video experience.

"Two weeks later I get a call from my boss asking me to work a banquet, and I tell him, 'I don't want to do that. It's my day off,'" Stephenson says. "And he says, 'It's for the new owners of the Phillies (the Carpenter family sold the team to a group headed by Bill Giles in 1982).' I say, 'I'm on my way over.'"

That night, an anxious Stephenson found himself serving drinks to Larry Shank, head of the Phillies' public relations department. After some small talk, Shank exclaims, "Hey, you're that video guy Wheeler was telling me about."

Later that evening Shank introduced Stephenson to Giles, the team's new owner, telling Giles, "This is our new video guy." No application, no interview—just a proclamation.

Soon after, "Video Dan" was a full-time employee of the Phillies, recording players' at-bats. "I have about 50 nicknames, but that's the only one that's standard," he says. "Giles used to call me V.D., which I don't know is such a great idea in public."
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