Baseball Outside The Lines

March 18, 2001|By Sun Staff

For a baseball team, spring training is all about routine. For a photographer covering a team, it can be much the same. Unless, like Sun staff photographer Karl Merton Ferron, you set yourself a challenge -- and remain open to surprise.

For 23 days, Ferron photographed the Baltimore Orioles camp in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., shooting 300 to 500 digital images of workouts, practices, games and fans each day. He'd sort through them to pick the day's best, then archive the images for The Sun's files. Next day, same routine.

So, Ferron says, "I challenged myself with trying to make at least several different photos outside the typical sports photos." Some of those are seen here: players snaking though the grass, autograph seekers too young to spell, a heron making itself at home on the infield. But Ferron says his most memorable moment came when he put his camera down.

One day, Ferron spotted injured Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. heading out to shag fly balls shot skyward by a pitching machine. As Ripken caught, Ferron photographed.

Then the tables turned. "Hey," Ripken called to Ferron, "wanna try and catch some?"

The photographer was stunned, he says, but then thought: "This is a moment that if you don't do it, you're gonna kick yourself." Ripken handed him his glove and took a seat to watch.

Ferron watched a ball fly into the bright sun in a deep-blue Florida sky, come down, tip off his glove and fall to earth. Three more balls went up. Three more misses. Finally, after a little coaching help from Ripken, the photographer made a catch. And quickly returned to his camera.

"As I walked away, I realized what just happened," Ferron recalls. "[It's] something you can't forget. Something to talk to your grandkids about."

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