Me and My Shadow

Center fielder Joven Afenir
Center fielder Joven Afenir pulled in a long fly ball and could view his catch thanks to the shadow he cast on the fence during a game against BYU in Hoglund Ballpark.

Hoglund Ballpark on a spring afternoon as the sun falls towards the horizon provides amazing light that brings dramatic rich and full color and shadows that stretch out across the blue padding of the outfield fences. It might not always be as beloved by the third baseman, shortstop and left fielder starring into the setting sun, but it does make for stunning photographs.

Combine that light with a center fielder, like Joven Afenir, who never was afraid to chase down any fly ball, no matter the cost to his body, and magic can happen. It did in March 2016 during a KU baseball game against BYU.

Tracking a scorching fly ball while running full speed to the fence as the ball rockets overhead requires a leap of skill and madness to pull the ball into the glove. Meanwhile, the light of realization is flashing all the while in the outfielder’s brain with alarming intensity. That warning was that as beautiful was the catch, there would be a cruel crash into the fence.

From my photo position at the far end of the KU dugout, I had to track Afenir and carefully compose the picture to include the shadow that brought the beauty to the photograph and combine it with perfect timing. I know Afenir didn’t have time to admire his shadow, but it would have offered a perfect view of one great catch.

Jeff Jacobsen has photographed practically every big event the sports world has to offer during a professional career that spans over 54 years. Jacobsen has seen things up close that only a diehard sports fan could in their dreams. His work for the Topeka Capital-Journal, Arizona Republic, Kansas Athletics, Inc., many national publications and now Action Images Photography, Inc., cemented his reputation as one of the nation’s finest sports photographers.

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