Boys of Summer—2001

The Story Behind the Photograph...

I took this picture in 2001, in what was then Pac Bell Park. I had this notion of creating a series of romantic images of baseball. Let me say upfront, I was more of a football fan than baseball fan growing up in New York. I loved the Jets, then the Dolphins and settled on the Cowboys of Roger Staubach fame. Baseball was too slow for my tastes and I never fully appreciated the strategy of the game.

But then I went off to Northwestern University just north of Chicago and discovered Wrigley Field and the Cubs. I didn’t become a baseball fan exactly, but – with the help of 20 oz. Buds in my hand – I became a fan of the rhythm inside the ballpark.

I was living in San Francisco when Pac Bell Park opened and the thought of capturing the pure spirit of baseball inside this new stadium fascinated me. This particular scene unfolded before me as I strolled around the various sections of the park with my camera and extra rolls of film in hand.

I love both the aesthetic and the story in this image. I often say that a great image is one in which the content and the style fight equally for our attention and affection. In this case, I find the symmetry of the many parallel diagonal lines in the image both attractive and pleasing. And then, of course, there’s the story of the athletes, standing and resting in a myriad of poses each of which speaks to his own individual expression of boredom. For me, that’s pure baseball and part of the magic of the sport.

This image was the anchor for a series of images I created that day… for a brief period of time the Photography Editor at Sports Illustrated and I exchanged emails when he expressed interest in having me shoot the playoffs or World Series in this style. We were exploring this idea just at the time when baseball was being racked by steroid scandals and it seemed prescient to help re-build the image of baseball by reminding everyone of it’s timeless poetry.

While the Sports Illustrated editor lost interest, the Smithsonian did not – one of the limited edition original prints of this image now resides in permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

As an artist and photographer, I look at a lot of my images and know instantly what I wish I would have done differently. Sometimes I wish I had framed an image differently - or worked the scene with a different lens or from a different perspective. Sometimes, I wish I had been more patient and waited for a better shot to emerge. There are a hundred ways I can and do criticize my own work. In this case, when I look at this image, I am always reassured that I got at least this one right. In this case, I wouldn’t change a single thing.


The Smithsonian—Permanent collection


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