Thursday, August 02, 2007

From nothing to something in a single inning

What a strange night this was.

Our local American Legion baseball team was playing De Pere for the state title. To make things tricky, this particular tournament was double-elimination. This meant that even if Appleton lost the championship game, they could still win because there would be a second championship game. And that is exactly what happened.

To call the first game "baseball" would be generous. The quality of play from both teams was absolutely abysmal. First rule of baseball photography is that you always shoot the starting pitchers - they will always have some bearing on the outcome of the game. The shots won't always be used but you have them just in case. Game 1, however, was the kind of game where we actually would have had to resort to use them.


In Game 2, our local ball club pretty much self-destructed. In the third inning, De Pere scored seven runs. Errors and walks by Appleton contributed to that. That half of the third inning, translated into time, was about 45-minutes. It was an eternity, and it was a cruel nail in the coffin for the Appleton players. This frame below, I thought, really captured that feeling of, "God, please make it stop."


How the photo was used on the front of our sports section:


I love shooting youth sports because of the unparalleled access photographers have. Nowhere else can media literally go into the dugout. It's a privilege and I try not to abuse it... I get in and get out while being respectful and making a worthwhile picture that tells the story and captures the emotion of the moment. This shot below was all about the disappointment of being runner-up.


Sometimes an accident turns into a picture. Sports photographers often use their cameras as notebooks. "Film is cheap," the saying once went. Well, pixels are even cheaper.

There's a reason why there are several hundreds of photos on my cards at the end of the night. For starters, I suck at shooting baseball so I shoot the hell out of these games praying for some luck. Secondly, I'm constantly shooting the scoreboard and backs of the players' jerseys. This gives me a visual box score of the game: chronologically, I have the action and the reaction photos that we'll use for the paper along with shots of the scoreboard (so I know the inning and any run/hit/error that resulted) and the players numbers (so I can look them up to get their names on the roster).

Walking out of the stadium after Appleton's loss, I remembered that I didn't shoot the scoreboard so I would have the final score (a piece of information I sometimes like to include in my captions). I turned and clicked the shutter. Several parents were still near the stands waiting to console their sons after the game. Their figures, half-silhouetted, made an interesting and moody view. The scoreboard also says a lot about how lopsided the game really was.

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