By: Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network
A few months ago when I talked to Team Canada’s Pan Am Games men’s baseball hero Pete Orr, he talked about being proud of his place in "The Picture".
There are different versions of The Picture floating around taken by different photographers and one snapped that night was captured by Ryan Pfeiffer, a full-time Metroland Durham Region photographer. It’s up for nomination as a national finalist in the largest photo competition in Canada.
The News Photographers Association of Canada is the organization behind this particular award and it recently announced its award finalists for national pictures of the year for 2015. Pfeiffer’s picture is a finalist in the Sports Action category.
In the July 19, 2015 picture, taken from a photo pit on the outfield part of first base behind a screen where another 10 cameramen were shooting, Orr is thrusting his closed fists in the air. No. 13 teammate Tyler O’Neill is running toward him as Team Canada beat the U.S. 7-6 in the gold-medal game at Ajax’s Pan Am Games President’s Choice Ballpark.
Down on the ground to the left in the photo is dejected U.S. catcher Thomas Murphy. The reason O’Neill was close to the scene more than any other Canadian player was that he was in the on-deck circle.
“You have to know the circumstances of what was happening in the game,’’ Pfeiffer said in a weekend interview. “The moment lent itself to the impact the photo had. The player (Orr) scored all the way from first. It was a play at the plate where he knocked the ball loose. He shouldn’t have been safe.
“He (Orr) erupted. Technically, you see the veins in his arms. He was yelling. The American catcher in the background was looking down at the ground, defeated. The other player (O’Neill) was over the moon and running toward him (Orr) to celebrate. It’s kinda interesting. He (Orr) looks like he’s almost looking at the camera. But I think he was actually looking at Larry Walker, the first-base coach.’’
All in all, Pfeiffer said the elements in the photo “all lined up perfectly.’’ Elation and defeat. A fellowphotographer told him it was the “perfect photo.’’
Pfeiffer’s snap was also picked as a Pan Am Games photo of the day and made the rounds across Canada with the Nikon Professional Services Members Exhibition Tour. Get this: it’s also been nominated for sports photo of the year by the Ontario Community Newspapers Association. The winner of the NPAC awards will be announced in Toronto April 23.
“The picture has also been entered into a few more contests that have yet to be announced so this list could grow,’’ Pfeiffer said. “I feel very lucky to have gotten this image. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and made the picture. If I had been a few feet to the left or the right, the elements would not have lined up so nicely.’’
So hats off to Pfeiffer for his shot in the right place at the right time. Photogs, as many of us in the media call these people, don’t get enough attention for their work. While many of us get a byline at the top of a story, the photog’s credit underneath the photo is small.
“Here’s a tidbit,’’ Pfeiffer revealed. “The photo was the Pan Am photo of the day and at the media centre, they printed it off. It was absolutely massive, a size that would fit across the entire front of a newspaper.
“I was going to pick up the picture at the end of the game but it was no longer there. A woman had wanted to send it to her son at the Canadian Forces base in Edmonton. But I told her that I was interested in keeping it. Here it was going almost all the way across the country to an army barracks. I felt a little bit bad but somebody had already promised me the photo.’’
It now is on a wall at Metroland’s Durham Region headquarters in Oshawa. If you want to purchase the photo, email Pfeiffer @firstname.lastname@example.org
“It definitely is an honour, especially for a national award,’’ Pfeiffer said. “Many of these photographers shoot big events on a daily basis so for me working for a community paper to run against those guys is great.’’
Danny Gallagher is guest speaker at three service-club gigs in South Florida this month as part of a swing that includes spring-training camps. March 9, he’s at the West Palm Beach Kiwanis Club, noon, at the Airport Hotel.
March 10, at 7:30 in the morning, he’s chatting up Royal Palm Beach Rotarians at the Wild West Diner and on St. Patrick’s Day, he’s speaking at the Palm Beach Rotary Club, noon, at the Chesterfield Hotel. Topic? Examining Baseball’s Possible Return to Montreal and its Impact on Spring Training Sites in South Florida.
Gallagher is also available on those dates after each function to sign copies of the book Ecstasy to Agony he co-authored with Bill Young about the 1994 Expos. The general public is invited.