Professional photographer, Vincent Pugliese, shares his love of sports, one picture and one memory at a time.
Editors Note: Vincent Pugliese has spent the past 20 years traveling the country taking sports photographs for a living. Each picture tells a story. Each picture stores a memory. Each a window into sport, and how we connect to it. In ‘Beyond the Lens,’ Good Men Project Sports selects one photograph and tells the story behind the shot.
. . . a day at the ballpark
Tropicana Field, ST. PETERSBURG, FL
Some images happen in an instant. You see a moment about to occur, line it up, compose, and shoot. It can be that simple.
Others take much longer.
This photograph was an example of the latter. Each stadium or arena that I photograph in, I try to make at least one image that is something that I haven’t ever done before, something that is unique to that venue, or ideally, both.
Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, is the home of the Tampa Bay Rays. An odd and interesting building, it is a cavernous structure that doesn’t fit the modern wave of retro classic stadiums that have dotted the baseball landscape over the past two decades.
I always strive to arrive as early as possible to any new venue which I work in. For the day game between the Rays and the Texas Rangers last April, I was met with a few pleasant surprises when I arrived to the ballpark. For starters, it’s evident why they built a stadium with a dome in West Florida. The sun was scorching hot three hours before the 1.p.m. start time.
As I did my pre-game trek throughout the nooks and crannies of the ballpark, a cool feature I hadn’t known about became glaringly obvious as I wandered through the deep centerfield area. The Rays Tank, a 10,000 gallon tank that is home to more than thirty Cownose Rays that fans can feed and touch throughout the game, is tucked into the right-centerfield wall of the ballpark.
The final thing that stood out was the roof of the building. It is the worlds-second-largest cable-supported domed roof, and is slanted from the second base bag towards the center field wall. Aside from game action and the behind the scenes moments that I searched for, finding an image involving the bright, sun lit roof became a target of mine that afternoon.
Close to an hour before game time, I made my way into the the Rangers dugout to look for an out of the public view image that can be illusive in professional sports world. In the dark tunnel that leads from the dugout to the Rangers clubhouse were the shadowy figures of trainers and the ground crew preparing for the game. It was only when I knelt down at the bottom step of the tunnel that I noticed a prolific view.
It was the ideal look that I was hoping for, so I abandoned any other plans until security would tell me that my time was up. I imagined the players would be heading towards the field momentarily, but none of them seemed to be in a hurry.
I began to feel impatient. At any moment, I could be told to leave. I had the angle, the view and the access. The only thing I didn’t have was the picture.
Slowly-very slowly- the trainers and staff began walking up the steps. The images were fine- and I got a chance to prefect the angle I wanted- but I needed a major league ballplayer to really make the image work. I was fortunate that both the security guard and the lone ranger (not pun intended) employee near me were interested in what I was trying to do.
Forty five minutes of patience began paying off. Ballplayers began making their way up the steps with the illuminated roof behind them, but none of the images stood out. It wasn’t until the Rangers Shin-Soo Choo walked up the steps, his glove in his left hand and two baseball bats in his right hand, when I knew I had image that had waited nearly an hour to make.
Photo Credit: Author
This post originally appeared on the Into The Uncommon Blog.