Whoa, Nellie!

October 15th, 2011  |  Published in Baseball, Front Page, Noteworthy

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 10: Nelson Cruz hits a walk-off grand slam home run in the 11th inning of Game 2 of the 2011 American League Championship Series between the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers. Photographed at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas on October 10, 2011.(Photograph ©2011 Darren Carroll) (Darren Carroll)Got to witness a bit of history on Monday night as Nelson Cruz ended Game 2 of the American League Championship Series with a walk-off grand slam home run in the 11th inning. Shooting the game on assignment for Sports Illustrated, I had originally gone to the ballpark with instructions from my editor, Nate Gordon, to come back with one picture–of the Rangers headed out of the dugout to start the game. Why? Well, aside from aesthetic considerations, we were up against a hard deadline: The magazine closes on Monday, and a rainout had pushed game 2 from Sunday night to Monday afternoon. A 3:20 start all but guaranteed that there would be time to get pictures in from the first half of the first inning, and that’s about it.

Nate and I discussed the picture he was looking for–low angle, wide, yet still a bit from the front if at all possible. Of course, you can’t be out on the field shooting when the players are running on to it, so I suggested mounting the camera on a ballhead, and then on a monopod, and using the monopd as a boom. Just before the Rangers took the field, I extended the monopod and shoved the camera out on to the warning track, firing it with a release cord. The previous day’s rainout had afforded me the chance to go to the park and set my angles, focus, and mark the position where I needed to be to make it happen, so it wasn’t a wasted day. Before the game, Nate told me they were holding the space open for that picture to open the story. No pressure, right? In the middle of the 4th inning I got a text from him telling me the shot was a success and that it was indeed running as the opener. That was a load off of my mind, and it allowed me to relax a bit and get into the rhythm of the rest of the game.

The rest of the game lasted another 3 hours, with the Rangers eventually winning on the walk-off by Cruz. Nate and I had discussed the importance of giving the pictures from the ALCS a sense of place, so I decided to pull back and shoot the potential winning hit loose, using a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV (with a special thanks to Jerry Ward and Bob Malash at Canon USA in Dallas for the loaner!) and a 70-200mm f4 lens. It was way too late to make it in the magazine, but it did get into the iPad edition, which isn’t a bad thing, either.

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