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  • kerribmcmullen

Baseball Creates Friendships

During college, I was encouraged to chase after an internship with The Pittsburgh Pirates, but I never knew how much chasing I would have ahead. It took me at least four to six months to get their team photographer to respond to me, but it has been a friendship that has lasted over 15 years.

I spent one year as a photography intern with The Pittsburgh Pirates, some freelance with them sprinkled throughout, and then the following year, their Photographer and my college approved me taking a Sports Photography class through the Pirates photography department since it was not offered at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh due to lack of interest.

Although I grew up in a household that watched sports, I was not a sports fan. However, I quickly learned that these opportunities at The Pittsburgh Pirates were invaluable to me. Their Team Photographer, Dave Arrigo, pushed my limits and taught me how to navigate dealing with difficult people, be a better photographer, and laugh more. He has taught me so much about photography and life that I am forever grateful.

Dave has been an important mentor to me but, more importantly, a true friend. He was recently at Pirate City in Bradenton, FL., to photograph Fantasy Camp, and I zipped over to help one day. It brought such joy to see him because he is a sense of "home"; I miss living in the "burgh" (Pittsburgh) so much. Not only did I see him, but I got to see several players and staff from when I was at The Pirates. It was as if 18 years had just flown by, and I was back with those familiar faces in baseball.

Fantasy Camp is a unique opportunity for anyone to get the Major League experience while being coached by Pirate Alumni who enjoy the laid-back, fun atmosphere. Many of these participants have been attending Fantasy Camp for over 15 years. As I took photos, I learned they come from all over the country to live out these childhood dreams of playing on the same fields as the Major League players. I enjoyed learning how many years they had been attending, where they were from, hearing funny stories, and sharing laughs.

I also had the opportunity to chat with some alumni, one being John "the Candy Man" Candelaria. John played for The Pittsburgh Pirates 1975-1985 and again in 1993. He walked over to introduce himself, and we began to chat.

Kerri: "What position did you play?

John: "I was a Pitcher for 19 years."

Kerri: "Wow, what kept you playing for 19 years?"

John: "They kept paying me." (as he laughed and shrugged his shoulders")

Kerri: "That certainly is a good reason."

Kerri: "What do you think of baseball then vs. baseball now?"

John: "The payscale certainly is different. The starting pay when I played was about $16,000, but now, it is more like $700,000."

I have heard alumni mention the difference in pay before; I doubt it is the last. The one thing that has remained the same through the years is the passion for baseball.

Baseball began the everlasting friendship between photographers, players, and fans; it has provided me with one of the best mentors and friends I could ever ask for.

Of course, Dave and I had to take a selfie before I left Pirate City.

After the players of Fantasy Camp got all of their photos with Pittsburgh Pirate Alumni, I was given the opportunity to sit for this photo, surrounded by so many baseball greats.


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