My Favorite Sixteen Baseball Photos of 2016

Now that the World Series is over, and history has been made it is time to take a look back at my favorite baseball photos from this year. It was an interesting year for me. It started with a lot of promise as far as baseball was concerned. Fresh off of winning the MiLB photo of the year in 2015 the Indy Indians wanted me to be on their team. Before I ever shot a baseball game we had a handshake agreement on terms that would lead to a great summer for both of us. Of course we all know how that handshake agreement suddenly turned into a very bad contract for me to sign with none of the terms we agreed about on it. Suddenly my baseball season needed a shot in the arm. That shot came from an unexpected source. I shot the MVC Tournament in Terre Haute, Indiana just after things went south with Indy. That was exactly what I needed as I was able to make some great photos during an emotional tourney run for several teams. The following week I was in Nashville covering a very sad first round of the NCAA Tournament for two teams. That tournament would result in much more work later on down the road for me. Summer league baseball then took over after the college season was done for me. I was very pleased to photograph the events surrounding the Prospect League All Star game in Kokomo. From there I had a blast covering the Colt World Series here in Lafayette. If you ever want to watch some really fun baseball, then the days of the Colt World Series are for you. I really had a good year shooting baseball, and I have a little more in store next year. The one downside to this year was the fact that I did not attend one single Major League game. That is unheard of for me, but it was a good sign for my business as I didn’t really have much time to get out and take in a game. Next year I need to get back to see the White Sox play in person. Below is a compilation of sixteen photos that I liked from this past year. They are not the best that I made, but rather my favorite shots from the year.

16. The list starts off with a shot that would not have happened if not for rain and a lens to test. This sectional title game was supposed to have been played while I was in Terre Haute covering the MVC baseball tournament. Rain pushed the game back. That worked out great for me because while I was in Terre Haute a Canon 200-400mm lens came from Canon for me to test. It would have been nice had I been able to test it on either side of when it came, but it came when it did. I saw this game as an opportunity to test the lens out. The Zionsville dog pile as they took home the sectional crown was a moment that I was glad I was able to capture.

15. The season in Indy started off with the Major League game between the Reds and the Pirates. It was a cool moment being able to shoot some Major League baseball. As far as one game from the year goes it was the highlight of the year for me. Before the game started I was trying to find some things that told the pregame story. The crowd of photographers around the locker of Andrew McCutcheon show what the local media thought of this star returning to Indy. The look on his face here made this photo for me.

Victory Field

14. The one stadium type shot in this countdown is this one from Victory Field. I love this as a show of just what baseball is. The cotton candy being held in the air just kind of mirrors the sky. This was a lucky shot as I was walking back from scouting the parking garage across the street when I saw this developing. I found a spot and waited for this to unfold the way that it did here.

13. During the first games of the MVC Tournament I was learning the ins and outs of each team. You have to adapt to the teams very quickly. One thing that I grabbed onto very quickly was the pregame mosh pit that Missouri State had before they took the field. I made sure that I was out in the middle of it during one of the games to capture it. I may have gotten bumped around a bit, but it was worth it to make this photo. 

Yusuke Akitoshi

12. Sometimes a simple moment can be made better with the light being the main subject. I think that this bunt is one of those moments. I just love how the light highlights what I want it to here in this photo. This would have just been another photo of a player bunting, but the light made it one that I remembered at the end of the year.

11. This year I came up with an idea while shooting many teams. I have been inspired by the early baseball work of Charles Conlon for a long time. His portraits of the 1927 Yankees have always stuck out in my mind. I wanted to steal his idea, and use it almost 100 years later. I had this idea that I called The Faces of Baseball. I made quick portraits of many athletes during the season. This one of Cody Strong one of my favorite Purdue players to photograph was one of my favorites. This just looks like a ballplayer to me. Next year I would like to really crank this project up a little more than I did this year.

10. I liked this photo because it contains two teams that I have shot for in it. Last season I was the team photographer for the Kokomo Jackrabbits during their inaugural season. This year the Lafayette Aviators had their inaugural season, but I was too busy to cover that team. I did make some games at the end of the year though, and I had a lot of fun watching them play. The light is great in Loeb Stadium, and I really need to photograph more baseball in there next year.

9. I really had a great time in Nashville photographing the first round of the NCAA Baseball Tournament for Xavier and Washington this year. Both teams pulled off a big upset, and they gave me a lot of emotion to work with. Hawkins Field at Vanderbilt is made to be photographed as well. It was a fun, hot, and wet few days that really were fun. For some reason I really love the long tournament days. I really can’t get enough baseball.

8. I wanted to make a shot on Opening Day at Victory Field that said Opening Day. Here Josh Bell uses his signature leg kick at the plate as the bunting and fans fill the background. I wish that the stands had been packed a little more in the background, but my job is to document what is there. I thought that this really summed up the day well.

7. A few years ago I covered all but a couple Purdue baseball games for the team. Things changed though, and I was no longer needed at their games. This March though I was lucky enough to cover three games for the team in Kokomo. One of them was a marathon game that was ended with a squeeze bunt for the walk off. This dog pile resulted. This photo makes the countdown because I was happy to be back photographing the Boilers, and it was an amazing end to a very good game.

6. During the Colt World Series I photographed some very cool moments. During the title game I liked this one when a local kid from West Side here made a great play at the plate to tag out a runner from Mexico. At the time it was a moment that could have turned the tide for a Indiana All Stars victory.

5. Speaking of victory here is one of my favorite photos from the MVC Tournament. Sometimes you just have a good day. It can come in an intrasquad game, or it can come when your team needs it most. For this Dallas Baptist catcher it came at the right time. He hit his first three home runs of the season including this walk off bomb to help Dallas Baptist keep on going in the tournament. It was an improbable comeback that ended in a shower of water.

Alen Hanson

4. Early in the season I was playing around with focusing modes while at first base. In Indy you either have to shoot from the first base well during the day, or early on before the light fades. Once the light fades you have a large video board in the background that is very distracting. During an early day game I made this photo of Pirates prospect Alan Hansen diving back into first. I was just messing around when Alan dove right at me. I was on him, and I made a photo that I really liked. It was my favorite action shot of the year.

3. Senior day for Purdue baseball was even more emotional with the knowledge that Purdue coach Doug Schreiber would also be coaching his last game for Purdue. Doug was from my hometown of LaPorte, and his name was on signs welcoming you into town for my entire childhood. I was happy to see him win the Big Ten titles in 2012, and wished nothing but the best for him. In the end though things just did not work out. That is the way it happens sometimes. Watching his team rally around him surprising him was a great moment that I was happy to capture. There was a lot of dust in the air during that pregame ceremony.

2. Before the final game of the Colt World Series I was planning my strategy to photograph the winners. I wanted to be in the right spot to make the photo that I had in mind. I wanted the pitcher and catcher celebrating. The large pile can be a good photo, but it can also be cluttered. I wanted this moment first, and then the large pile. I moved well down the third base line to include not just the pitcher and catcher, but also the fans of team Mexico in the background cheering. I think it added to my photo. Had I shot it from the normal position I would have had a bland clubhouse building in the background. Things worked out well for me in this photo, and I was glad that I made the choice to stand where I did.

  1. The number one highlight of the year for me was running out with the Dallas Baptist team as they won the MVC baseball tournament. As they celebrated I made a few photos of the team, but I wanted one with the hands on the trophy. As they team raised the trophy I moved to a position that allowed me to see the writing on the trophy. I was standing next to a future MLB draft pick up against a table in a very uncomfortable position to make this photo. It was worth it though as it was my favorite baseball photo from this year. That was the end of a very fun baseball tournament. I really would love to shoot this tournament every year.

So there it is. My sixteen favorite baseball photos from this year. This was a fun year with ups and downs, but more ups than anything else. Baseball is my favorite sport to watch, and one of my favorite sports to photograph. As I write this I am making plans to photograph more baseball next year. Each year I think that I cannot possibly top the previous year. This year is no different. It was a fun year full of firsts. With that said each year I have managed to top the previous year. The year 2017 will have to be a very good one to top this one. Seeing Purdue in the Big Ten baseball tournament would be a good first step for a good 2017. I will leave you with one last photo below. My first game of the year was in early March, and it was a beautiful day. These are the days that you wish for when you are making photos. Hopefully I can experience a few more of these next year, especially come tournament time.

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About Pinola Photo

I am a sports and lifestyle photographer based in West Lafayette, IN home of Purdue University. I cover sports for Big Ten teams as well as other colleges. You can follow me on twitter @pinolaphoto. You can also view my website at www.davewegielphoto.net

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