March 21, 2008 – Clearwater – David Schofield, BlueClaws Team Photographer
Well today marks the last day of my stay in Florida for spring training. This has been a busy three weeks to be sure. Let’s look at what I did for the past three weeks.
Headshots: I shot headshots for the New York Yankees minor league system, this meant rising at 5AM to be set with lights and backdrops for a 7AM shoot in the area beneath Raymond James Stadium, the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During this shoot I also photographed the Trenton Thunder and the Charleston RiverDogs, affiliates of the N Y Yankees. I then photographed the Phillies teams, the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs, Clearwater Threshers and the Lakewood BlueClaws. This was an early start as well, but shorter travel from where I was staying. This is a fun day as well, as I am able to re connect with the old BlueClaws players and coaches. I got to see Roadie and Tom Filer and Rod Nichols as well as many of the players from the 2006 South Atlantic League Champions. March 6 took me to Dunedin to shoot the headshots of the New Hampshire FisherCats. The FisherCats are the AA team of the Toronto BlueJays. My final headshot assignment came on March 10 when I journeyed to Jupiter Florida to shoot the A team for the Cardinals the Quad City RiverBandits. All told, seven minor league teams and the entire Yankees minor league system were photographed.
Major League Games: During my stay in Florida I photographed a total of ten major league games. These games included the Yankees, Phillies, Twins, Rays, Pirates, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Indians and Braves. I found it interesting that when the Red Sox or Yankees play away games they do not send all of their first team players. Major league rules insist that a team send at least 4 regulars and a regular starting or relieving pitcher. Needless to say, this does not always happen. Also after about the 6th inning any regulars are usually out of the game and on their way home. Of all the players I saw, Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez seemed to be the most ready for the season to start. I had the most fun after the regulars were out and the players destined for the minors, with something to prove, came in to play. Greg Golson, of the Phillies, made the most of his time in the big league camp, as he hit over .400 and a couple of home runs. He also stole several bases. I am sure he opened a few eyes in the Phillies camp.
Minor League Games: I was able to shoot the future BlueClaws in a couple of minor league games. They played against the Blue Jays and the Yankees. Unfortunately, an uncommonly wet spring in Florida caused a couple of the minor league games to be canceled. Teams are unwilling to put players at risk by playing games on wet fields. Spring is all about work and they can get that work in the batting cages as well as in a game. Still there is nothing like game situations to judge players and when games are cancelled and the weather improves, many teams will play intra squad games for that work. On one of these days, the Phillies tested the arm of Brad Lidge, recent acquisition from Houston who suffered a knee injury early in camp. Even though he had surgery, he was well along in his recovery and needed to pitch to live hitters and off of the mound. The Phillies had an intra-squad game and Lidge pitched for the A team and Cole Hamels pitched for the High A team. These are the kinds of things that happen in Spring Training.
College Games: On Saturday March 9 I drove to Orlando to photograph the Monmouth University baseball team against Central Florida. This was an interesting game. A freshman, in his first Div. 1 game hit a home run that tied the game and sent it into extra innings. The game lasted 16 innings and Central Florida pulled it out. Monmouth, playing only its 5th game of the young season did a fine job in playing CFU close for three games. A couple of days later, I photographed the Monmouth University women in a softball game in Orlando against Butler.
Special Assignments: This was a year of special assignments for me. I photographed many of the promotional items for the Philadelphia Phillies on a day when Scott Palmer was video taping announcements for the website. I also photographed the St. Patrick’s Day uniforms for the Phillies and supplied them to MLB.com. One of the more interesting special assignments I had was at the request of Leigh Tobin, Public Relations Director for the Philadelphia Phillies. She asked if I would shoot some photos of her friend’s wedding on the beach in Clearwater. It was a very breezy and cool night, but the sunset was spectacular and, though I usually leave the wedding photography to my friend Alex, this was kind of fun. On various occasions the Phillies asked me to go to minor league camp to get images of players on the big team playing in games on the minor league side. I photographed Kris Benson, Brad Lidge, Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and Chris Snelling all playing in minor league games.
A very special assignment came from a small magazine in Ireland specializing in soccer. They asked me to provide them with some images of the USA-Panama game in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament being played at Raymond James stadium. The USA won on a Freddy Adu penalty kick, but an exciting moment occurred prior to the game as Mariano Rivera came down on the field to speak with a friend of his from the Panama team.
As I said, this was a busy but enjoyable time in Spring Training. I especially enjoyed seeing some great BlueClaw fans who made the journey to Florida. I saw the Mensers and the Hoffmans and of course General Manager Geoff Brown and Assistant GM Brandon Marano.
Thanks for letting me report to you during my stay. I hope you enjoyed hearing about what I was doing as much as I enjoy doing it. Perhaps when I get back to New Jersey we will post a photo page from spring training.
Remember the season starts on April 3…if you haven’t gotten your tickets for Opening Day, get busy…I will be looking for you at First Energy!!