Text and Photos by Jordan Megenhardt
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Earlier this week, the D-backs completed a three-game homestand against the Cleveland Indians. Even though it was a very short stint of games at Chase Field, there was plenty of action, highlighted by Wily Mo Pena’s walk-off home run on Tuesday night.
When we wrote about Pena in Spring Training last week, we knew we’d be in for a treat when the team made it back home. Though, he was only used as a pinch hitter, Pena made an enormous impact and gave us plenty of great photo opportunities.
On Monday before the game, all anyone could talk about was Wily Mo Pena. Everyone couldn’t wait to see what he could do at the plate, and in the batting cage. During batting practice, we went down to the field to catch an up-close glimpse of Pena underneath the turtle shell.
Despite the deafening sound of cracking bats, I mustered up the courage to go right up to the mesh fence of the cage, reach around with a wide-angle lens and snap some photos of Pena in action.
While we we’re out there during batting practice, Chris Young and Gerardo Parra couldn’t help but watch and smile as Wily Mo belted baseballs deep into the bleachers. But, Justin Upton was clearly inspired or provoked and capably put on a show of his own.
As team photographers, we have the privilege to get this close to the action. It’s something that we try to take advantage of as much as we can. And, as team photographers, every once in a while we get requests for help from visiting teams asking for special coverage. When Cleveland called up prospect Lonnie Chisenhall before Monday’s game, we were asked to get some photos of his Major League debut.
As a baseball photographer, and a baseball fan, I love seeing guys make their debut (even if it’s a guy from the opposing dugout), it’s a very special moment and I consider it an honor to cover that kind of event. You never know who could end up becoming a legend or Hall of Famer.
That same game, Ryan Roberts gave us another chance for some unique photos. For the first time in his D-backs career, he donned the high socks and short pants. It might not seem significant, it’s not really, but it’s little fun things like this that catch a photographer’s eye.
Also during the homestand, a few roster moves were made. Relievers Alberto Castillo and Yhency Brazoban were called up from Reno for the first time. When new guys are called up to the team for the first time, we make sure to get photos of them as soon as possible. It’s important to do so for a couple of reasons. Part of our job is to document the history of the team, and when a guy makes his debut with the team, that’s a very important historical moment. Also, we use images of our players in many different outlets. Whether they’re used on the scoreboard or a billboard, we need to have the most current images possible.
The photo wells at Chase Field are on the inside of either dugout, near the on-deck circles. Those wells are where we shoot from most of the time. But, sometimes we roam out into different locations. This past homestand, the dugout suite on the third base side was empty, so we were able to capture some images from an angle that we don’t see very often (as you can see in the photos of the pitchers above and the ones below).
The biggest highlight of the homestand was Tuesday night’s game. Daniel Hudson pitched an amazing game and gave his all out there on the mound, and at the plate. Hudson is another guy who makes it easy for us to get some nice images. For a pitcher, he gets on base a lot, which makes things interesting for everyone, especially a photographer.
After getting on with a nice double, Hudson was caught off-guard on a pick-off attempt and just barely missed making it safely back to the base (as you can see in the photo below).
One big difference between an American League team photographer and a National League team photographer, the American League team photographer won’t have too many images of a pitcher in a dirty uniform.
Unfortunately for Hudson, J.J. Putz couldn’t lock down the save and the Indians came back. But, fortunately for us, that meant we might have the opportunity for a walk-off win. And a walk-off win is exactly what we got when Wily Mo Pena belted a pinch-hit, two-run, walk-off homer to end the game in dramatic fashion. Another one of the great privileges that we have as team photographers is covering a walk-off win. During the regular season, we’re the only photographers allowed on the field when a walk-off happens (and for more, look for our post next week when we discuss how we cover a walk-off victory).
There aren’t any more games (besides the All-Star Game) at Chase Field for another two weeks. But, we’ll be making a few posts between now and then. As mentioned, we’ll be talking about how we cover a walk-off victory, as well as a behind the scenes look at the Roland Hemond D-backs Insider cover shoot.
Until next time, here are some more images from the Cleveland series: