How an Indiana photographer created the MLB lockdown archival photos – The Athletic


As usual, this baseball story begins in a Little League park.

It was at Arbuckle Acres in Brownsburg, Ind., where a milestone in the evolution of baseball took place last December.

Because that’s where Icon Sportswire photographer James Black first took pictures of a baseball and bat connected by a huge chain and padlock.

And baseball stock photography would never be the same again.

“Absolute hero, this photographer,” editor-in-chief Tracy Greer wrote to me in a Slack message. “I can’t tell you how much time was spent trying to find generic photos during the 2020 (COVID-19) shutdown. Bless whoever came up with the idea for this.

The man behind the idea is said to be Tim Curlee, the head of photo operations at Icon Sportswire, who emailed his photographers when the lockdown began on December 2.

“He kind of came up with the idea of ​​a chain and a padlock or something (that),” Black said in a recent phone conversation. “And then let us run with it.”

Work stories have been the focus of baseball coverage since the Atlanta Braves beat the Houston Astros in the World Series, and like spring and early summer 2020, editors found themselves with wire service photos of orphaned gloves, helmets and bats to place at the top of their stories. A desperate baseball cap can tell a story, sure, but where’s the magic? Where’s the romance? Where is the giant chain that does absolutely nothing?

Black was in a bit of a rush that day.


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