It was kind of fun to return to a pro ballpark yesterday for a minor baseball team's media day. Even it was only a Class A Short Season team here in our area, The Hudson Valley Renegades. There's still something nice about arriving to a ballpark or arena when it's empty, and you're there to work. Maintenance crews on riding mowers, others doing touch-up painting around the field, and a bucket truck behind the outfield wall hoisting an electrician high to make scoreboard inspections and repairs, are all part of the behind the scenes look before Friday's opening night game.
I found myself reminiscing about the days when I'd covered the Yankees, Mets, Knicks, and Nets' media days at their respective practice facilities with the hordes of NYC photographers and national media types too. (Yes, including MLB Spring Training & exhibition games down in FL years ago for the NY teams.) Not to mention the 5+ years of MLB baseball I'd covered as a staff photographer at The Journal News in the mid-90's and as a lead photo-editor at the NY Daily News, where I'd helped to coordinate our team of 5 staff photographer's coverage during the Yankee playoffs earlier this decade. To put it in sort of perspective - I've seen a lot of baseball. Bringing a full set of Dyna-Lite strobes, complete with the full assortment of stands, clamps, umbrellas, gaffer's tape, Pocket-Wizards, cords, and obviously more gear than I'd realistically need still made the mid-morning assignment fun.
I'd rehearsed in my head that I'd arrive at least an hour and a half early and tape up a small piece of white seamless paper in the dugout to make headshots of the players, and portraits on the field. Everything worked out well when there were two electrical outlets right near the bullpen telephones in the home team's dugout. I'd even brought two long heavy duty extension cords and a multi-plug surge protector. I knew I wanted to at least make my head shots "tight & bright" on a low ISO, so I'd need power for the strobe. Otherwise I'd be forced to use the small portable strobes, although I knew they wouldn't allow me to continually shoot at the high power setting I'd need to get f/8 or higher at ISO 100 or so. Thank goodness for the little things.
The players were great. Some as young as 19 years old, (like opening night pitcher Albert Suarez from Venezuela at left) and first year manager Brady Williams (below) is the son of a long time major league manager, Jimmy Williams.
I'm hoping we get to cover a few of the Renegades' games this season, and hopefully even a behind the scenes look at a "Day in the Life" take on the team when they go on the road - which of course is only in the tri-state area. I'm sure they just travel to games by bus, so thinking ahead and already mentioning this to the sports editor, I know it'd be a good opportunity to produce a multi-media slideshow with audio. The team boasts a few good prospects, so I'm guessing a few of them have a good shot at making it to the big leagues sometime down the road. Stay tuned. -cg.