Photo Day shenanigans are a Spring Training tradition.
I’m really not sure why a portion of the Yankees’ Photo Day took place in a bathroom, as evidenced by an Alex Rodriguez picture that circulated around the Internet and Twitterverse on Monday. I checked the Internet for answers as to why a photographer from a reputable company set up camp with A-Rod in such an odd place, but there didn’t seem to be a logical explanation. The only conclusion I can draw is the photo was leaked, and we’re the unfortunate beneficiaries of yellow journalism.
Anyhoo, I can assure you the Astros’ Photo Day setup was considerably less cramped, had a much lower ick factor, and each year, they try to make it as painless for the players as possible.
Photo Day is a somewhat awkward experience, but one that is an essential part of big league baseball. It’s the one day all year that everyone who needs headshots or posed shots has access to the players, all at once. Newspapers, online news organizations, baseball card companies and the club’s own scoreboard staff use Photo Day to stockpile pictures of players that they will inevitably need over the course of a season.
Photo Day starts insanely early. The first batch of Astros players began the process at 7 a.m., which means the photographers had to be here around 5:30 or so to set up. Groups went through the stations in 15-minute increments, with the youngest, most inexperienced players going first, and the veteran guys (Carlos Lee was last) getting the more desirable time slots.
Players go from station to station with a printout of their name and their position. They hold up the sign for the first photo that is snapped, so that they’re easily identifiable when the hundreds of photos from all 30 teams need to be organized and placed into a database.
(Years ago, Reggie Abercrombie and Hanley Ramirez thought it would be funny to switch signs. For a full year, their head shots on scoreboards all through the league and in media guides were not of themselves, but of each other.)
Here is some behind-the-scenes footage of Photo Day, where players are trying to act naturally for the cameras while ignoring the few of us who snicker from the sidelines. Enos Cabell had a laugh as he remembered Photo Days from years past, when the topic of the exercise centered around the size of Bruce Bochy’s head.