Before Covid derailed the 2020 MLB season, the Los Angeles Angels were supposed to travel to Miami to play the Marlins, but that never materialized for obvious reasons. I was disappointed to say the least because that would have been my chance to finally shoot Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Fast forward a year and Ohtani is the talk of the baseball world and I finally got my shot to photograph them playing the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, FL.
Lets not overlook the fact that I also had the chance to photograph Vlad Jr. as well, because that is a treat in itself as well. It just that I had the opportunity to shoot him a few times already and I was really excited to get the Angels because they don’t make many trips to the East Coast and I had to capitalize on my opportunity.
So when MLB called me up asked if I would mind going up to Dunedin to cover the game at TD Ballpark I was like, “Hell Yeah!.” The drive up was like 4.5 hours and nearly two hours of that was crossing the state and through the Florida Everglades. The stadium itself is where the Blue Jays come down to play in during Spring Training, but with the issues Canada was having with Covid they played their first month there before heading to Buffalo.
I meandered my way through the stadium to the location for photographers only to be delighted to see that we were basically right on the field. We were separated from fans for Covid protocol reasons, but it sure beat shooting from way up in the concourse like at loanDepot Park where the Marlins play. As I waited for the players to come to field I was greeted by the calls of circling ospreys overhead as they flew to their respected nests on top of the stadium lights. I was too busy looking up to notice that Mike Trout came out to stretch.
Trout, Albert Pujols, Anthony Rendon and the other Angels came out and stretched but I couldn’t find Ohtani. He walked out to warm up with the pitchers and not the field players. Come to think of it he didn’t even take BP; he just stayed with the pitchers warming up.
As the start of the game approached and with the sun setting behind home plate, giving the field a nice golden glow, Ohtani came to the bench. He didn’t look like he was built like a rock like a Mike Trout or Aaron Judge. He seemed tall and lanky, but looks can deceive. After his first hit I quickly realized he didn’t need to be their size as he crushed a double to the wall.
His next at bat he smashed the ball over the wall for a home run. The way the ball sounded off the bat had it’s own distinctive sound that I have heard from any player before or one that I can remember. It was such an effortless swing too, but as soon as I heard the sound I knew it was gone.
Perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout played up to his MVP caliber self and the Angels won easily over the Blue Jays; I came away impressed by how Shohei Ohtani hits. Now I understand why he is the talk of MLB baseball.
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