clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The 11 genres of baseball photos from Photo Day

New, comments

Every photo day has a picture from one of these 11 genres, from baseball holding to bug swallowing.

I spent the last two days sifting through more than 5,000 different pictures from Photo Day. You might think this is a fun way to spend several hours. You are wrong. These pictures are not for us. They are usually functional, unremarkable pictures, ostensibly to be used on scoreboards and at the top of baseball articles about baseball. There are thousands of them. They are practical.

Yet every year, a couple of the pictures from Photo Day make the rounds, hinting at a treasure trove of amazing pictures just waiting to be unearthed. This is, generally, not the case. There are headshots, and there are more headshots. And after you get through the headshots, there are more of them. Some players are smiling, some players are very serious. You get the idea.

But I am now a self-proclaimed Photo Day expert. And I have lessons to teach. There are 11 distinct genres of baseball pictures that are taken on Photo Day. Here are those genres:

Tossing a baseball up in the air

My goal was to compile every single one of these into a collage that stretched 489,030 pixels long and melted your data plan. I lasted about a half-hour before giving up.

Before moving on, I want to stress that I'm not here to pick on the photographers, who aren't there to capture a lightning bolt hitting Half Dome. Those pictures were taken by six different photographers (all from Getty Images), and they're an anticipated part of every Photo Day. If they don't take a thousand pictures of the players throwing a baseball up in the air, there will be someone asking, "Hey, what happened to the pictures of the baseball players throwing the baseballs in the air?"

I'm here to pick on the demand for these. They have literally been around for over a century.

Who wants these? Who has always wanted these? Where are they used? I have so many questions about the floating-baseball genre of Photo Day.

Let me show you a baseball

Similar to the above genre in its inexplicable ubiquitousness and general whimsy, this one has players, almost always pitchers, showing you a baseball.

Would you like to throw this baseball as hard as me, Hector Santiago?

Boy, would I!

You cannot.

Aw.

Class photo

This is the default, really. There are hundreds of headshots, like you would find in every yearbook, no big deal.

Some of them eclipse this modest orbit, though, and become senior class portraits.

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

C.J. is on the baseball and track teams, and his hobbies include roller hockey and hanging out with his friends.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Byron lettered in four different sports, and was an active member of his debate team. His dream job is to be a newscaster or veterinarian.

Marc Serota/Getty Images

Yoenis enjoys driving cars that cost more than your house, the modest home that your parents still can't afford, the one that traps them in a financial death spiral and forces them to stick with the job that gnaws at their spiritual well-being from the first shriek of the alarm clock to the lonely, dead-eyed darkness that consumes them every night.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Ben likes sports and one day would like to play more sports.

Coach swallowing a bug

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images

This the most sublime of all Photo Day genres. The players never look like they just swallowed a bug. Just the coaches. Every year. I promise, there are dozens and dozens that I didn't use.

The wedding photo

This is the wacky variant of the class photo, and I have no idea who is playing the role of wedding photographer. Is it the person taking the picture, or is it the boisterous subject?

First, a disclaimer: Most wedding photographers play a noble role, and their artistry will hopefully capture treasured memories that you will rediscover in the brightest and darkest times in your life. Most wedding photographers.

Mine was this kind:

Wedding photographer: Okay, now you're looking at your watch because your wife is late, and your wife has her hands up like, 'Hey, you knew I took a long time to get ready when you porposed to me!"

Me: Did you say porposed?

Wedding photographer: /makes Jim from "The Office" face into his own camera

It's a tough thing to force wacky. Sometimes the wacky just wants to sit there and kind of take a nap. Now, I don't know who decided to be wacky in any of these pictures, but I'll blame the players by default. If you don't like it, blame this guy:

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Nick Swisher exists as a cautionary tale for a generation that doesn't remember Dan Cortese. He seems nice, don't get me wrong, but I'll just guess the photographer didn't exactly have to pull the wedding-picture wackiness out of him.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Ha ha, is this baseball on?

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Oh, man, those guys, back at it again.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Aieee! A baseball

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Totally rude, dude!

This isn't to say that there aren't successes in this genre. Several Royals took pictures with a miniature replica of the World Series trophy that made it seem that they wanted to take the replica to Niagara Falls where they would do things that are none of our business. And that's fine.

For the most part, though, you get bat-guitars.

Holding a sign

I'm assuming this serves some sort of function, and occasionally one of the pictures is charming enough to share.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Fair enough! More options and variety are good things.

There is some overlap with the category before this one, though. There are jokes.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

And some of these sign-holding pictures are downright subversive. What if the person holding the sign ...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

... wasn't the person whose name was on the sign?

Well, all hell would break loose, that's what.

Fake hitting a home run

I like these, probably because they have a long history that extends to the days of Mays and Mantle.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

And while I'm mostly in the dark for exactly how Photo Day works, the one thing I've confirmed through several sources is that every one of these photographers calls an imaginary game for each player, just as they did as a 10-year-old in their backyard, making fake crowd noises and going into a falsetto announcer voice when the imaginary home run is hit. If they don't do that, and if they don't make it believable, the player can't get in the moment and the picture is worthless.

I don't know a lot about Photo Day, but I do know that.

Peekaboo

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

who's that pitcher? who's that pitcher right there? who is he?

*squeals*

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

who's that pitcher? who's that pitcher right there? who is he?

Instead of pretending that I don't know what the point of this is, allow me to announce that I know exactly what the point of this is: It's for when you have to make a 25-foot banner of someone's face to hang in your ballpark.

Yeah, now you get the point of the peekaboo.

Art

These are good photographers, all. You don't just mash some keys on Monster.com and get to be a photographer that covers Major League Baseball three weeks later. And while I'll let you decide for yourself which of these pictures truly resonates with you, some of them are pretty fantastic.

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This next one has a caption of "EDITOR'S NOTE: Image was created as an Equirectangular Panorama. Import image into a panoramic player to create an interactive 360 degree view," but I like to think of it as an unofficial homage to Dorf.

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Some of the pictures are so good, they look like they were made for magazine covers.

I would read that.

The self-aware pic

This is where the photographer gets meta and makes sure you know that it's just a picture.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

They can be kind of neat. I don't have a joke for this one. I just told you that I was sharing the different genres, and I was trying to be comprehensive. Sorry.

The genre of photo where Jack Murphy's steely gaze envelops you and draws you closer, as he whispers instructions that you would have never considered in a former incarnation of yourself

Jamie Squire/Getty

Oh, Jack, I wasn't expecting ...

Seasons don't fear the reaper

Yes, I know, you've told me this many, many times, and

Nor do the wind, the sun, or the rain.

I know, Jack. I know. It's just that what you're asking is ...

Forty thousand men and women every day.

This can't be happening. But I know it is happening.

We'll be able to fly.

Jack, where did you come from, and why was I chosen for this? And why can I not disagree with a word you're saying?

Forty thousand men and women every day.

I submit. You have won, Jack Murphy. Where you lead, I shall follow.

We can be like they are.

And those are the different kinds of baseball pictures.