I remember listening to games on my transistor radio. You, younger people, can ask your parents what those were. I can remember Teddy's last home run, Billy Rohr's near no hitter and Tony Cs tragic story of potential, stardom and the night a fastball crushed the side of his face. He was never the same and out of baseball way too early. Then his life ended way too early. I had season tickets to the Boston (not New England back then) Patriots. This is when they were really bad. Hell, the stands caught fire once and it was more entertaining then the game. I had season tickets to the BIG BAD BRUINS and the greatest hockey player I ever saw, Bobby Orr. I saw Russell, (the greatest basketball & team player ever) and Havilicek win championship after championship. I hate the Yankees, Jets, Knicks and Rangers: hell, I would hate the New York Soccer team but I have no idea who they are. (Now that I think about it I hate them also). DISCLAIMER.. If your a sports fan you would understand what I mean, but for you non sport fans let me explain. I am talking laundry just laundry, not people, cities or states. Heck I even like and admire some Yankee players. It would be hard not to like Jeter or Posada, although their third basemen not so much. This is all said in fun folk.
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."
So you see, I am a Boston Red Sox fan and this is a great time of the year. They are in Florida. Spring training has begun, the winter is almost over (almost) and hope springs eternal in the breast of every Sox fan. This is the year we do it again. Heck, we have Crawford, Gonzalos and a revamped bullpen: it is our year. Take that you **##** Yankee fans.
Ok, so now you really understand I am a Boston fan. Then why would I go to see a Toronto Blue Jays farm team play?? Well, a few reasons; one the park was about 20 minutes from our house when we lived in New Hampshire. The seats, the very best ones, box seats from the first row to the third row cost us $12.00. Twelve dollars! Are you kidding me? At a pro game, the hot dogs are about that much!!! It was a pretty nice park and they provide a great family atmosphere. In between innings, you can see sumo wrestling and a man riding a ostrich throwing hot dogs into the stands. OK, it's guy in a costume but its $12.00 for the best seats. What did you think you were going to see, a real ostrich or Sid Vicious singing the national anthem? (just seeing if your reading all my post). I didn't understand the connection between the ostrich and the hot dogs either but the kids loved it. But none of those were the main reason!! I went to try and capture some good action images with my camera and challenge myself.
If I can combine four of my loves in one evening; my wife, baseball, photography and a cold beer, that is not a bad night, boys and girls. Plus I get to challenge myself: play my own little game within the baseball game and very, very rarely pull a hammy doing it. My challenge is simple: to take images showing action and always try to include the ball in the air not secured in someone's glove or hand.
This may sound easy but try it. It starts when you order your tickets. I always get tickets between home plate and either first or second base and no farther away from the field then the fourth row. I always take my longest lens, which now is the Nikon 70 - 200 VR lens. I set my ISO for around 1800, my camera in manual mode at 2.8 and the firing mode to continuous. I know that after the fourth or fifth inning, the sun will be down and the chances of getting enough light to freeze the action diminishes a LOT!!
I start off focusing on the pitcher: waiting for the windup. When he starts, I start firing shot after shot till the ball is out of the camera's sight. I am trying to capture a few different images. I like to get the torque of the arm in the windup: the ball in his hand a second before he releases it and then the ball on its way toward the batter.
My second effort is of the batter. I focus on him with one eye while my other eye is looking at the pitcher, I kid you not. This gets easier with practice but I would hold off on the beers till after you get your images. I wait till I see the pitcher release the ball, count 1 or 2 seconds and then start firing. It depends on how fast the pitcher is, also if it is a fastball or off speed pitch. I am hoping to catch bat on ball (you need to be really lucky) or the ball and bat right before or after contact. If I can catch the ball in the catcher's glove and the batter swinging and missing, I'm okay with that image also. Usually by the fifth inning, the sun is down and the minor league park lights are not up to what I would need. Then I concentrate more on the game and a few cold beers.
It is always a fun night and if I can come away with a few shots I like, then it's a perfect night. Especially if on the way home, I hear that the Sox won their game (even better if it is the **##** Yankees that they beat)
"In the seventh inning fans all get up and sing 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game,' and they're already there. It's really a stupid thing to say and I don't know who made 'em sing it. Why would somebody that's there get up and sing take me out to the ball game? The first person to do it must have been a moron." - Pitcher Larry Anderson
Larry was obviously a deep thoughtful and warm human being.