Times to Remember
March 25, 2011 – My last trip to spring training came to an
end last week (March 18), and it could not have concluded on a better note.
Yankees team photographer James Petrozzello and I arrived at
George M. Steinbrenner Field at around 7:30 am to set up for a photo shoot with
As I wrote in a blog entry a few days ago, I have been
working on a very special feature story on A-Rod, which will appear in the May
issue of Yankees Magazine.
Today, the final two pieces of the story came together. Amid
one of the most picturesque mornings I’ve seen in nearly a decade of trips to
Tampa for Spring Training, Petrozzello captured an image of Rodriguez that
encapsulates my story.
As 8:30 am approached, the thick fog that blanketed the city
for much of the morning began to give way to a hazy and sun-lite sky.
Petrozzello set up shop on a dirt walkway, which is located
right outside the Yankees indoor batting cage (very close to where Petrozzello
photographed Robinson Cano earlier in the week).
The photo, which will grace the cover of the May issue of Yankees Magazine, features Rodriguez
standing in the very spot where the sunlight meets the dark walkway.
That walkway is covered with baseballs, which I plucked from
a hopper that holds more than 150 baseballs. That hopper, which remained about
three quarters full, is also in the background of the photograph.
After that photo shoot, Petrozzello took a few photos of
Rodriguez along an outdoor walkway that leads to a practice field. The
beautiful morning really added to the radiance of the photo.
While I’m not going to reveal the cover photograph now, I
will provide you with an early look at the photo of Rodriguez, which was taken
on the outdoor path. Hopefully, you like the photo as much as I do, because it
will run as the pull-out poster in the May issue.
When the photo shoots were done, A-Rod invited Petrozzello
and I into the indoor batting cages so that Petrozzello could capture a few
more photos and so I could observe him in a place in time that few ever get to
I will provide much more detail about Rodriguez’ preparation
in the story, but for now, I can report that the third baseman’s level of
intensity was off the charts. He began the exercise by hitting baseball after
baseball off a tee before smacking (maybe destroying is a better word) every
one of the 50 or so pitches Kevin Long tossed. And Rodriguez hit them in
whichever direction he desired.
As exciting as my morning was, the end of my day was even
more thrilling. After a long day of travel (and traffic) from Tampa to New
York, my 3 ½ year old son and I took advantage of whatever daylight was left
for our own batting practice session.
That’s when I got to witness Alfred hitting a baseball —
that was pitched to him –for the first time. After a few warm-up tosses from
about five feet away, he made contact with a pitch, driving it 21 feet. After
the baseball’s momentum stopped, we hugged each other like two guys who had
just won the World Series, and that was as wonderful as the hit itself.
I had two unforgettable experiences in one day. The one with
Alex will stay with me for a long time and the one with Alfred will be with me
–Alfred Santasiere III