During my junior year at Syracuse University, I knew I wanted to work on a baseball story, but in Syracuse, we don’t have a Major League Baseball club. I started brainstorming story ideas and thought it would be interesting to document one of the players who was projected to be called up during the season.
I did some research before Opening Day and found that Dominican centerfielder Rafael Bautista was one of the top prospects expected to play in the big leagues during the season.
I reached out to the Syracuse Chiefs and they were very accommodating in allowing me to talk to Rafael and giving me a season pass to photograph as many games as I possibly could.
Rafael was awesome and he had a great season with the Chiefs. One day, he called me and lets me know that he was about to go to the mall to buy a suit in case he got the call. I picked up my camera to document the moment. Seven days later, he makes his debut for the Washington Nationals.
Starting this year, the Syracuse Chiefs are the Syracuse Mets - the Triple-A affiliate to the New York Mets. The Triple-A team for the Nationals is now the Fresno Grizzlies, where Rafael hopes to play after he recovers from a season ending injury that he sustained last year.
My time photographing Rafael and the Chiefs is one of my fondest memories of my time in Syracuse. The organization is all class, and I am so appreciative of the opportunity they gave me.
Most importantly, I will always be grateful because they helped me surprise my dad with the throwing of the first pitch during one of the games. It was a special day.