Earlier this month on May 6th, Willie Mays’ 80th birthday, we published a “different photograph” of Mays making his historic catch in the 1954 World Series. What’s “different” about it? Well, many people had never seen “The Catch” from behind the center field wall before.
The question that came to my mind when I first saw the photo, and by the amount of emails I’ve received, obviously on the minds of many of you as well was, “who took the picture and where the hell was he located?”
The quest to find the photographer has now taken on a life of its own, and we are asking you, the reader. to help out. We’ve made quite a bit of progress over the past month and we have now found out where the guy was when took the picture. In fact, there are photographs that exist of the gentleman actually taking the picture.
Now, this isn’t exactly like the Zapruder film, but the investigative process itself isn’t all that far off. In terms of a baseball investigation, this is more like the Seinfeld Magic Loogie, Reconstruction.
Here’s the composite photo including a view of “The Catch” from behind the center field wall.
Now here is another photograph taken, within nanoseconds of the photos above, from behind home plate.
Many of our readers have pointed out that there are people in the windows and that it was likely one of those people who took the picture. The consensus knee-jerk reaction has been that the guy in the window to the far left took the picture, I’m guessing because he’s the most prominently visible. When blown up, it does indeed look like the gentleman has a camera in his hands and is fixated right on Willie. In fact, the angle the photo is taken from is just about correct.
However, further scientific analysis, including but not limited to, shadows, angles, trajectory, common sense and just plain old looking at the darned thing, suggests that while “window guy” may have snapped a photo of “The Catch,” he didn’t take this one.
The photo taken of Willie is from behind and to the side, as well as above the wall, as you can see the top of it, and so “window guy” could not have taken the photo.
But wait, there appears to be a few photographers and cameramen one story up above the windows! A careful review of another photograph taken nanoseconds prior to the two above (damn, did everyone walk around with a camera in 1954?) shows a more vertical view of the centerfield wall at the Polo Grounds, and leads us right to our photographer.
Check out the dapper dude directly above “window guy” over the right section of the “bird cage.” That’s our guy! You can see him snapping the picture!
So we’ve found our guy. Now who the hell is he? This is where we need your help. Do you know someone who was at the game? The game was played on September 29, 1954. It was Game 1 of the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and Cleveland Indians at the Polo Grounds in New York. Mays is 80 years-old now and was only 23 when he made the catch. Chances are that if the photographer was much older than Willie that he may no longer be living. That said, even if the photographer was 10 years older than Willie and 33 at the time, this would make him 90 today and perhaps there is reason to hope he’s still with us.
If you think you may have a lead for us or might know who the photographer is, please contact us. Talk to your father or grandfather and see if they were at the game. If they weren’t, maybe they know someone who was. Give them a recap or account of the events that day, perhaps it may jog their memory. The quest to find Willie’s photographer has taken on a life of it’s own and has been spurred on by you, the reader, so don’t stop now. Keep those emails and photos coming, we’ll find him.
Please forward any leads you may have here with the subject marked: Finding Willie’s Photographer
The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at TheXLog.com. You may email Mike @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano