Ok, so this might get a little long to read, so I apologize ahead of time for the "fanboy" in me to come out in full force.

Being a Mets fan is tough. Sure like any team they have their ups and downs, but sometimes the Mets just bring it to new levels. If by now you didn't know I was a Mets fan, and by that I mean a diehard Mets fan, then you may have been living under a rock. I recently had the opportunity of a lifetime when I got to be on-field at Citi Field to photograph a Mets game. Not just any Mets game though, a game in which they played the cross-town rival New York Yankees in interleague play.

It all started when fellow Mets fan, founder of Metsblog.com, and friend Matt Cerrone had invited me along to take photos. Cerrone saw my passion for the team and offered to bring me to a game for an experience I could only dream of, and it was so surreal from the moment I woke up the morning of Tuesday, May 28th, 2013, game day. I met up with Cerrone for the ride up, he game me the low-down on the timeline and how things were going to run. I could just sit back and soak in every bit of what was about to happen.

Once we arrived to Citi Field it was pouring rain, so we were just hoping the game wasn't going to be cancelled. We made it into the office, I received my game photo passes, and went through the door that opened up into the press conference room. As we walked in, Mets manager, Terry Collins, was sitting in the hot seat and answering questions from the media. We walked in toward the end, so wasn't able to get any photos, but right after that, we knew we had some time until Joe Girardi, manager of the Yankees, and the one and only Mariano Rivera addressed the media.

Cerrone and I walked through the underground hallways, or what seemed to be underground, and after a few minutes, I found myself walking right onto the field. That's right, onto the field. I remember taking that first step as I would never have that 'first step' ever again. Took a deep breath, and let out a big sigh as I planted my feet in the dirt. At this point I looked around to an empty stadium, a little drizzle of rain was still in the air. I entered close to the third base dugout, so slowly walked toward the first base dugout (the Mets dugout), walking behind home plate, felt the wet grass, and yes, it was spongy (Fever Pitch movie reference). I proceeded to the dugout, and again had another first step, this time into the dugout. The first thing I noticed was the bullpen phone, and then took a seat on the Mets bench. All I can say is this pre-game experience was nothing short of ridiculous. I could have never imagined being in an empty stadium, taking in the sights (even though it was through raindrops), and creating this memory I would never forget. After some time, taking photos, walking onto the field, literally soaking it all in, it was time to go back into the press conference room.

I took my seat right in front, sitting next to other photographers, listening to them talk about their camera settings to one another. Looking a few rows back I saw Cerrone on his laptop live blogging to Metsblog.com, which was really weird because I always see his updates pop up on the blog and now I'm physically seeing it happen in action. I looked around some more, noticed Howie Rose (Mets radio broadcaster), Buster Olney (ESPN), Jay Horowitz (Mets VP Media Relations), Gary Cohen (SNY TV Broadcaster), Kevin Burkhardt (SNY TV Broadcaster), and many others in the media. All I can think was how amazing it was to see them all in the same room when I usually just see them from various television broadcasts.

Then the time came, the greatest closer in baseball history, Mariano Rivera walked in. I was literally seven feet away from a legend. The Mets gave him a farewell gift for his last season, he had a few short words, answered some questions, and went on his way back to the clubhouse. Then Joe Girardi gave his pre-game press conference, answered the medias questions, and all I can remember is hearing the sounds of pens and pencils echoing through the room of the media writing down every word being said by the Yankees manager. I think that's a sound and feeling I'll never forget. In such a digital age, it was really refreshing to hear pens and pencils at work. Like I said, it was a very surreal feeling and I can feel all my senses 100% enhanced with what was happening around me.

Ok, so we got word there was going to be a delay, but the game would happen. This was especially reassuring because we were here, ready to go, and Matt Harvey was scheduled to start for the Mets. Cerrone and I grabbed a bite to eat, hung out before the game, discussed the ins and outs of how things usually run in Major League Baseball, I listened, took it all in, and savored every moment of it. I made my way down to the photographers pit on the 1st base line, took my position, set my camera, and I was ready to go.

Since Mets pitching ace and MLB All-Star Matt Harvey was on the mound, the energy in the stadium was incredible. The first three or four innings were a bit of a blur as I got myself into a rhythm, photographing all the players at rapid fire. This is when total "fanboy" photographer settled in. I did get some great images of the players playing the field, batting, and even a few shots of the coaches, but around the 4th inning I got up from my post and walked over to the photographers pit on the third base line. I knew I wanted a bit of a different view, but what I thought about on my walk over was taking a deep breath and coming up with a game plan of how I can see the game from a true "different perspective." I settled in, switched up the lenses a few times, and went at it again, this time focusing on the players and the stadium all at once, bring out all the energy and surrealism that I was feeling.

With the Mets were trailing in the ninth I got to see Mariano Rivera pitch. What happened next was something you couldn't script even if you wanted to. Nine pitches. Nine pitches is all it took for the Mets to score 2 runs off of the greatest closer of all time to win the game 2-1. As soon as I saw the crack of Lucas Duda's bat and David Wright rounding third base, I set my camera to home plate because I knew something incredible was about to happen. I think of all the images I shot at the game, that's my favorite. The perfect ending to a very perfect day.

Word had it following the game it was the first time in Mariano's 19 year career that he had blown a save without recording an out. I gotta say, after all was said and done, I got to have one of the experiences of my life, photograph a Major League Baseball game, photograph Mariano Rivera, see a Mets walk-off win, take in all the sights, sounds, and smells of the ballpark, and all while being zoned in, cherishing every bit of it.

One thing that I'll always remember from this day forward with my images is each and every one of them has their own story that I'll cherish always. They may be small stories of what they mean to me or how it happened, but they're my stories that will always hold a special place with me.

Major thanks to Matt Cerrone for making it all possible, there simply are no words to express my gratitude to him.

For all the details/recaps on the game itself, please check out the following links:
Video Recap: via MLB.com
Boxscore: via Yahoo Sports
Recap: via Metsblog.com
Game Preview: via Metsblog.com
Rain Delay Live Blog Post: via Metsblog.com
Pre-Game Press Conference Love Blog Post: via Metsblog.com
AP Walk-off Images: via Metsblog.com

All images are posted individually below, but if you'd like to see a larger/sharper image, you can scan through them by clicking the thumbnails.

Comments

  1. Awesome stuff here Dave!

  2. Steven Wojtowicz July 20, 2013

    These photos are amazing. I know if I was given a similar opportunity I would be wayyyyyy to nervous to produce anything even remotely close to what you were able to do. As an amateur photographer, I am really interested in the "tools" you used. Camera body specs not to important but what lens, and camera settings did you use. This being a night game (and a late one at that if I remember correctly) I assume lighting was a concern. In fact, lets play a game, I am guessing f2.8 on a 70mm-200mm lens shooting at 1/500 shutter speed at ISO 800?

  3. Jeanette July 23, 2013

    LOVE THEM!!! I'm so happy you got this experience...NOONE deserves it more than you :)

  4. Awesome shots, a chance of a lifetime!

  5. So awesome!! Just as a straight up baseball fan, this excites me but to be for your own team is just amazing. So happy you got to have this experience and that it was such an incredible game to be a part of!

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