The Perfect Smile

February 26, 2014 – On Saturday February 22, the Yankees held Media Day at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Each spring at Media Day, the players and coaches spend a few minutes with each of the media outlets who are stationed throughout the ballpark. Many of the Yankees Magazine cover photos that we’ve published over the years have been taken on Media Day.

This year, staff photographer Matthew Ziegler took portrait shots of every player and coach from the umpires’ clubhouse. While Ziegler captured several beautifully-lit photos, team photographer James Petrozzello had one very important job. Petrozzello was set up in an outside location near the right field bullpen. There he snapped the image that will run on the cover of the 2014 New York Yankees Official Yearbook.

On the final Media Day of Derek Jeter’s career, Petrozzello captured a magnificent portrait of the Yankees captain. In the photograph, Jeter is leaning against a fence, which sits in front of a baseball field. In my opinion, the early-morning haze gives the photo character, and Jeter’s smile makes it stand out.

If previous media days have taught us anything, it’s that there is a major difference between Jeter’s natural smile and the one that photographers typically get during photo shoots. But this year, for this important photo, Petrozzello and I were determined to get Jeter to give us an ear-to-ear grin.

A few seconds after Jeter began to pose for the photo, Petrozzello asked Jeter to smile. The captain obliged, but he didn’t look very happy. That prompted Petrozzello to bring to Jeter’s attention the look that he sported in a photo that he took with my 6-year-old son, Alfred, a day earlier.

“When you met Al’s son yesterday, you really looked happy,” Petrozzello said. “That’s the look we’re trying to get now.”

Jeter responded quickly.

“Well, Al’s son makes me happy,” he said. “He’s a great kid.”

Jeter’s face lit up, and Petrozzello snapped several photos. The photographer captured Jeter’s signature smile, and just like that, a yearbook cover for the ages was made.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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