Vantage point: Michael Groll

Vantage point: Michael Groll

Michael Groll has been a staff photographer for The Associated Press since 2007 and has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Time and Smithsonian Magazine.Below, Mike shares his firsthand experience shooting the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, New York. The 2014 ceremony takes place July 25-28th and Mike will once again capture the event for AP Images.

 

How long have you been shooting the MLB Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony?

MG: I shot a couple of the ceremonies in the early 1990s as a stringer for the AP and I've shot all but one since joining the AP staff in 2007.

Hall of Fame inductee Andre Dawson during Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Sunday, July 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)


Bert Blyleven looks at a Pittsburgh Pirates exhibit during his orientation visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Blyleven, who helped pitch the 1987 Minnesota Twins to a World Series and had 287 victories in his Major League Baseball career, was elected to the Hall of Fame in January on his 14th try.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)


Chris Soprano of Rochester, N.Y., photographs his aunt and uncle, Susan Lee and Scott Lee of Seattle, before the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., Sunday, July 27, 2008.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)


What do you try to capture in your photos of Cooperstown?

MG: Induction weekend is long, but it flies by. Early Saturday, the class of 2014 will join previous inductees for a golf outing at Leatherstocking Golf Course. It’s a good opportunity to get them interacting and being themselves. Later in the day, Main Street is crowded with fans headed to the Hall of Fame or restaurants or one of the many souvenir shops, which provides opportunity for good feature photos. Sometimes you run into an inductee roaming the crowd, as I did in 2009 with legendary left-fielder Rickey Henderson. Going to Cooperstown reminds me of what I love about the game.

Rickey Henderson, left, visits with Negro League player Bob Scott in Cooperstown, N.Y., Saturday, July 25, 2009. Henderson, who played 25 Major League Baseball seasons with nine teams, will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)


What do you try to capture in your photos of the ceremony and the speeches?

MG: Photographers are positioned in a pit in front of the stage, which offers a close-up perspective of the event and the inductees. We are crouched on wooden benches, the summer sun beating from above, with lenses trained on the guests of honor. We are in good proximity to capture the inductees and hall members who have returned for the ceremony. The must-have photo is of inductees at the podium with the Hall's banner behind them. Beyond that, any emotional reaction from the stage or the families seated behind us makes for a great moment.

Tony Gwynn, who died last month, delivers his speech during the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., Sunday, July 29, 2007. Gwynn played his Major League Baseball career with the San Diego Padres.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)


Maria Alomar, left, kisses her husband Sandy Alomar Sr., as their son Roberto Alomar gives his Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech during a ceremony at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Sunday, July 24, 2011.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)


What is your most memorable speech or moment that you've covered at the Hall of Fame?

MG: Over the years I have noticed there is always a moment when an inductee mentally steps back from the speech they agonized over and repeatedly practiced and goes back in their mind remembering how they got there, remembering things they overcame to be successful and the people who helped them along the way. In that moment, their face changes and their expression is so genuine – they aren’t giving the speech anymore – they're remembering. Whether it’s a smile, a tear, a shoutout to someone or something – that’s the moment I try to get. One moment that stands out was from former umpire Doug Harvey back in 2010 and the Baltimore Orioles’ Cal Ripken, Jr. in 2007.


Doug Harvey reacts as his induction tape is played during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Sunday, July 25, 2010. Harvey delivered the speech on tape as he suffers from throat cancer.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)


Fans sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during an induction ceremony at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., Sunday, July 26, 2009.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)


Cal Ripken Jr., gets emotional during his induction speech at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., Sunday, July 29, 2007. Ripken played Major League Baseball for the Baltimore Orioles.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)


Do you have a favorite photo of the event?

MG: I don't have one photo that stands out as a favorite, but a few that immediately come to mind are a fan wearing a chair on his head to shield himself from rain, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice of the Boston Red Sox with their plaques and Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench leading the seventh-inning stretch.

Cooper Ehrendreich, of Milwaukee, Wis., takes shelter from the rain during a delay to the start of the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sunday, July 28, 2013, in Cooperstown, N.Y.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)


Rickey Henderson, left, and Jim Rice hold their plaques after their induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., Sunday, July 26, 2009.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)


What are you most looking forward to this year?

MG: With six inductees, this year's class will be the largest that I've encountered. And the crowd could reflect that. I'm sure there will be a great New York Yankees presence in the crowd with manager Joe Torre going in. And, the Atlanta Braves should be well represented with manager Bobby Cox and pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux entering. First baseman Frank Thomas will have faithful Chicago fans there, as will former White Sox manager Tony LaRussa. The fans make for good photos as they play catch, read and cheerlead up to the actual induction ceremony. Mostly, I look forward to good weather and great photos.

Baseball fans sit in the rain during a delay in the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sunday, July 28, 2013, in Cooperstown, N.Y.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)


Lead Image Caption: National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Frank Thomas gets emotional as he speaks during an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)


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