Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Matt Young gets the call for opening day

9 April 2008: Infielder Matt Young (6) of the Mississippi Braves, Class AA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, in the season’s home opener against the Mobile BayBears at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss. Photo by: Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images

Infielder Matt Young, a long-time Minor Leaguer, got the word today that he’ll be on the Atlanta Braves’ 25-man roster on opening day.

Reports from the Braves’ beat writers indicate that Young was so emotional when he was given the news Sunday morning that he temporarily forgot to listen to anything else that was said.

Nobody in the Braves organization has worked harder to get a roster spot. Young, generously listed at 5 feet 8 inches, has had to work harder than anyone else to get noticed. He has been a perennial award winner and all-star.

He hit .300 last year at Triple-A, .358 just a few months ago in Mexico, and in his career was player of the week in the International League, Southern League, Carolina League, Best Hustler in the Southern League . . . and you get the picture.

Has his height kept him back? Probably, but he keeps hustling and winning awards. And now he finally got the call after being in the Braves organization since 2005.

I’ve photographed him for several years, including quite a bit when he was in Mississippi, and I haven’t seen very many players work as hard as he has. He deserves this shot.

Also selected to the opening day roster today were Brandon Hicks, also a long-time Braves farmhand, another feel-good announcement.

15 March 2009: Brandon Hicks in a game between the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros at the Braves’ Spring Training camp at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Photo by: Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former Brave Hampton decides to retire

29 March 2008: Mike Hampton of the Atlanta Braves in an exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians at Turner Field in Atlanta, Ga. Photo by: Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images

Former Atlanta Brave Mike Hampton told the Diamondbacks staff this week that he plans to retire.

Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports: “When Hampton left D-backs camp Thursday, he informed general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson that he was leaning toward retirement. He returned Saturday morning to tell them and his teammates that he has indeed opted to retire.”

After a good start for the Braves in 2005, Hampton suffered an arm injury and eventually underwent Tommy John surgery. He never pitched well for the Braves after that, tried to make a strong return with several teams, and finally was with the Diamondbacks on a Minor League contract.

I shot this photo in March 2008, when he started an exhibition game with much anticipation. But despite a good start and tremendous determination to return, he never completed the expected comeback with the team.

 

A successful first-ever calendar project

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Now that we have grandchildren, one of the best Christmas gifts we get each year is the Shutterfly calendar with the kids’ photos. They always turn out beautifully. They go up in our kitchen where we see them every day.
So when Shutterfly offered me a free calendar last week I decided to try my hand at a baseball-only calendar entirely with my photos from last year. And . . . I love it. The printing quality is terrific.
Now, if I could just find a business partner and get a great deal on a bulk purchase from Shutterfly . . .

The saga of the long-shot baseball card

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Pitcher Mike Foltynewicz of the Greeneville Astros works out prior to a game against the Bluefield Orioles on July 18, 2010, at Pioneer Field in Greeneville, Tenn. Photo by: Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images
You may not have heard the name Mike Foltynewicz, but the Houston Astros picked him as their No. 1 draft pick for 2010, and they’re hoping you’ll hear the name someday soon in the Houston lineup.

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I certainly knew who he was when I drove up to the Greeneville Astros’ ball park in Tennessee last July to shoot one of his team’s rookie Appalachian League games. 
I only had one day in Greeneville, and like every other Minor League photographer I had a list of top draft picks and I wanted those shots more than any others.
But pitchers like Foltynewicz are the toughest assignments. They pitch once every four or five days in the minors and sometimes spend an entire day never picking up a ball or glove. This would be one of those no-throw days.
But I had to get a shot, any shot. And I just don’t like making posed photos. So I followed him around as he did his pre-game workout with arm exercises and a medicine-ball toss. All fun behind-the-scenes stuff that I love seeing and shooting — but no baseball-card-worthy shots. So I gave up and went on to photograph as many of the other players as possible.
Later, when he emerged from the clubhouse right before the game in his home uniform, I still had some hope that I might get my shot. Those hopes faded away when he drew the evening’s autograph-table assignment. A dull photo if there ever was one. This would be a scratch. Sitting at a table near the gate and signing his name . . . I knew the other guys in my agency would be luckier (and smarter) than me and would get him on a pitching night.
But I don’t give up easily, and I lurked by the autograph table and waited until someone said something funny and he cracked the only smile I saw on his face all night. (Lots of pressure being a No 1 pick.) I got one shot. But I knew I didn’t have a chance at an image anyone would publish.
So you can imagine my delight yesterday when I scoured the latest batch of Bowman 2010 Draft Picks and Prospects cards . . . and saw my Foltynewicz autograph-table shot.
Sweet. Very sweet.

A great story about one player’s 14-year quest

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Catcher J.C. Boscan (2) of the Mississippi Braves, Class AA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, in a game on April 13, 2008, against the Mobile BayBears at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss. Photo by:  Tom Priddy/MiLB.com
There’s a terrific piece about long-time Atlanta Braves farmhand J.C. Boscan posted today to the Minor League Baseball site.
After 14 years in the minors, J.C. finally got the callup to the majors in September and was put into a game late in the season. Ashley Marshall interviewed J.C., managers and Braves officials for the story.
I couldn’t have been happier when I heard about J.C. making the roster, and I have to say I was a little emotional reading Marshall’s story.
I’ve met a lot of ballplayers over the years, but it’s usually a hit-and-run conversation, never to be repeated. But I met J.C. several years ago when he was playing for the Greenville Braves, and he always makes a point of saying hello whenever we happen to be on the same field.
Where does he go from here? Well, nobody knows. But now at least he has his cup of coffee. All the best, J.C.

Down on the Farm slideshow from May

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Right fielder David Rubinstein (15) of the West Virginia Power runs into the right field wall unsuccessfully chasing down a foul ball in a game against the Greenville Drive in a game on May 2, 2010, at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, S.C. Photo by: Tom Priddy/MiLB.com
Here’s my second installment in the 2010 Minor League Baseball season retrospective, Down on the Farm. These are my favorites from May.

Photos from Down on the Farm, April 2010

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Lexington Legends outfielders J.D. Martinez (20), left, and Grant Hogue (5) run into the wall and each other as they try unsuccessfully to track down a fly ball in a game against the Greenville Drive April 25, 2010, at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, S.C. Photo by: Tom Priddy/MiLB.com
One thing I do in the off season is collect my favorite photos from the Minor League Baseball season, and put them together into a slideshow for each month. Here’s April.

Six players suspended one game following brawl

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The benches clear in a brawl after a close play at the plate at the end of the fifth inning in Game 2 of the South Atlantic League Championship Series between the Greenville Drive and Lakewood BlueClaws on Sept. 14, 2010, at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, S.C. Leandro Castro and Julio Rodriguez of Lakewood and Michael Almanzar and Derrik Gibson were ejected by HP umpire Derek Mollica. Photo by Tom Priddy.
Six players involved in Tuesday night’s brawl at the South Atlantic League Championship Series game in Greenville have been suspended for one game. Most are expected to sit out Game 3 in Lakewood, N.J.
Eric Jarinko, Senior Director, Marketing & Media Services for the Greenville Drive, confirmed the suspensions in an e-mail a few minutes ago. 
Although the suspensions were handed down by South Atlantic League President Eric Krupa, there has been no official press release. Jarinko said players have been fined in addition to the suspensions, but he said no details could be revealed.
Jarinko confirmed the following suspensions: For the Drive, Michael Almanzar, Vladimir Frias and Jeremy Hazelbaker. For Lakewood, Julio Rodriguez, Leandro Castro and Korby Mintken.
All will take Game 3 as their suspended day, with the exception of Rodriguez and Frias, who will sit out Game 4. The best-of-five series is tied 1-1. The remaining games are scheduled for Lakewood.
Game 3 was scheduled for Thursday night, but it has been postponed due to rain.
The benches-clearing brawl broke out after the final out in the fifth inning, when Derrik Gibson of the Drive collided with Lakewood’s catcher, who held on to the ball for the out.

Benches-clearing brawl at Sally League playoff

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The benches clear in a brawl after a close play at the plate at the end of the fifth inning in Game 2 of the South Atlantic League Championship Series between the Greenville Drive and Lakewood BlueClaws on Sept. 14, 2010, at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, S.C. Leandro Castro and Julio Rodriguez of Lakewood and Michael Almanzar and Derrik Gibson were ejected by HP umpire Derek Mollica. Photo by: Tom Priddy/MiLB.com
And to think, I almost left after the fourth inning . . . I had already gotten the action I needed.
But  . . . it was the last baseball game I’d be able to shoot this year, and I had trouble leaving, so I stayed just a little longer . . . and look what I got.
I’m scanning my memory and I don’t believe I have ever shot a benches-clearing brawl before. I was preparing for Derrik Gibson of the Greenville Drive to score on this play at the end of the fifth inning, but he smashed into Lakewood BlueClaws catcher Sebastian Valle, who hung onto the ball for the inning’s final out.
And then the unplanned fireworks began. Instead of a high-five session in the dugout, I got a benches-clearing brawl than went on and on . . .

On the road in the Appalachian League

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Infielder Brian Burke (9) of the Elizabethton Twins hits off a tee in the batting cage prior to a game against the Danville Braves on July 16, 2010, at Joe O’Brien Field in Elizabethton, Tenn. Photo by: Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images
I’m back home now after shooting my first four-day, four-town, four-game series in the rookie Appalachian League, and despite the daily non-stop thunderstorm warnings, I never got wet.
(At least, not until day five, when I tried to push my luck and extend the streak one day to shoot a Carolina League game in a fifth town, but that’s another story.)
Oddly enough, my favorite photo from the trip was the one above, which I shot in the first 10 minutes of day one. 
I arrived pretty early in Elizabethton, Tenn., even before batting practice, and I saw some interesting activity in the batting cage. Most batting cages are in dark, dungeon-like rooms deep inside the stadium, normally with very little light, so they don’t photograph well. 
Not so this cage, which was completely open on one side down the right field line.
I clicked off a few shots and liked this one the best.
(I’ll have more photos from the trip coming up soon.)