Each summer, I get the opportunity to cover all kinds of events and and meet tons of players. Hands down, every year, one of my favorite teams is the USA National Collegiate team. USA Baseball always does a fabulous job bringing in great players: both on and off the field. I love watching the guys interact with the fans and tear it up on the field.
Last year, USA Baseball and Cuba partnered up to begin a friendly, summer series between the two teams. With last year’s series being hosted by Cuba, and therefore zero ability to cover it, I was beyond excite to see my list of assignments for the 2013 USA Baseball season included the final two games between the teams here in North Carolina. And boy, did it ever live up to the anticipation!
I love the feel of the ballpark.
One night each summer, USA Baseball invites fans out to the ballpark early to do meet and greets with the players. It’s always fun to see the girls gushing over the players and which guys get the most requests (with this year’s honors going to local boys Trea Turner and Skye Bolt).
Then the little kids come through the line. Their reactions to meeting the players are PRICELESS!
Michael Conforto and Austin Cousino were kind enough to pose for this shoot with Oliver, a young USA Baseball fan. Adorable doesn’t do this photo justice!
The level of cuteness and sass of this little girl is out of this world!
Part of my assignment was to capture as many photos of Cuba players and fans as possible. With limited access to players, it can be pretty difficult to get good photography.
I was pleasantly surprised by how many Cuba fans came out for both games. It definitely made the atmosphere that much more exciting!
This is what happens when you try to take photos in the Cuban dugout.
This photo of Baseball America’s John Manuel laughing at Alex Bregman’s stories from Japan cracks me up every time I look at it.
The performance of the series went to USA’s Carlos Rodon, who completely dominated in the series finale. His stuff was nasty!
Joel Suarez, Game 4 starting pitcher for Cuba.
Cuba’s Jose Fernandez
Matt Chapman, USA Baseball CNT
Cuba’s Dairon Varona lost his helmet while swinging at and missing a Carlos Rodon pitch.
Trea Turner slides safely into second during Game 5.
CNT memebers high five Kyle Schwarber after he crosses home plate for the first run of Game 5.
Cuba manager Victor Mesa argues a call during Game 4.
William Luis-Campillo of Team Cuba
Cuban RHP Raciel Iglesias
Alex Bregman celebrates his go-ahead, run scoring triple in Game 4 vs. Cuba.
Before his first at bat of Game 5, I asked Michael Conforto to give me one nice swing. He delivered with 2 beautiful hits. Can a girl ask for anything more?
USA Baseball CNT players celebrate on the mound after sweeping Cuba in a five game series.
With that, another year of great collegiate baseball with Team USA comes to a close. Is there really any better way to wrap up the summer? I don’t think so. It was an unbelievable series, and I had a blast covering it. Now the question is, how do I convince USA Baseball to let me travel with the team to Cuba next year?