For all of the baseball fans reading this, the no-hitter by the Philadelphia Phillies Roy Halladay last night in the NLDS playoffs brought back an incredible memory of mine. Way, way back before either Elizabeth or I photographed weddings, I was a primarily a sports photographer in New York. Before any legitimate photo editor would hire me for an assignment, I would build my portfolio by buying the cheapest ticket almost nightly at any of the pro, college or high school stadiums. I would then do my best to sneak down as close to the field as possible to get the right angles and positions to shoot from. This was one of the magical nights. On May 14th, 1996, I attended the game with a few friends that were Seattle Mariners fans, who were taking on the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. I remember Joe telling me in the third inning that they wanted to leave early if the Yankees were winning and I mentioned in passing that Dwight Gooden was throwing a no-hitter. He looked at me like I was crazy. When the Yanks took a 2-0 lead into the seventh with Gooden not surrendering a hit, there was a buzz in the crowd about it and suddenly I didn’t seem so crazy.
At that point, I told my friends that I’d meet them outside after the game and I weaseled my way down the the lower level. From doing this often enough, I figured out the patterns of the security guards and I made it to the second row by the end of the eighth inning. When Gooden took the mound for the top of the ninth, the place was electric. The crowd hung on every pitch and with two outs, Gooden was poised to make history. With two strikes, I knew the image I wanted to make. As Gooden wound up, I zoomed out to get him throwing the pitch with the giant scoreboard on the left showing nothing but zeros. Paul Sorrento popped the pitch to the rookie shortstop Derek Jeter and the no-hitter was in the books! The iconic stadium shook with excitement as Gooden jumped into catcher Joe Girardi’s arms. It was one of the nights that convinced me that I was going to do whatever it took to do this for a living, that I could actually make a career out of taking photographs.