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  • Writer's pictureJeff Palicki

Sports Photography - Anything is Possible

This photograph of David Ross is by no means my most exhilarating photograph, but if sentimentality is worth anything, it's a million dollar shot.

David Ross is one of my all-time favorite people in the game of baseball. Though PNC Park is now my home field, I grew up at Wrigley Field - home of the Chicago Cubs. Baseball was my life. The Cubs were my obsession. I watched Sammy Sosa go yard there. I watched Kerry Wood strike out the entire world there. I got my first Cubs Jersey there (I still have it). I got Mark Grace’s autograph. I met Joe Girardi. Year after year I rooted for the Cubs - win or lose. I was never disappointed in a loss, only saddened when the season was over. It was truly an unconditional love.

In 2015 the Cubs acquired Catcher David Ross; a seasoned vet at the end of his career. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go in Chicago sports, but I’ve never seen anyone become so beloved, so quickly, as David Ross. He instantly cast a spell over Chicago, charming us all. We loved him.

Until 2016, one thing I had never seen the Cubs do was go to a World Series. Well, they did. Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, and David Ross, knowing this would be his final game in the MLB, takes the field to catch for his long-time companion, Jon Lester. Together, they get the Cubbies out of a jam, the top of the inning comes, and David Ross steps up to the plate. Slider - Strike one. Second pitch - he fouls it off. Pitch three - ball. On the fourth pitch, 39 year old David Ross, in his final Major League Baseball game, throws his hands at the ball, and BOOM - sky-high home run to center field. Millions of adoring Ross fans cheered as he took his victory lap around the infield. The Cubs would go on to win their first World Series in 100+ years. Cubs fans around the world rejoiced. That may have been Ross’ last game, but we weren’t going to let him go that easily. Not him. The Cubs hired him to work in Baseball Operations the very next season, and in July 2020 Ross coached his first game as the Manager of the Chicago Cubs. Yet again, Cubs fans rejoiced. Cut to May 2021, PNC Park. I’m there to photograph the Pirates game. Since they’re playing the Cubs, I post up on the first base side dugout, of course. As the guys start trickling out of the locker room, and into the dugout, I’m snapping the occasional photo, while trying not to be invasive. When I saw David Ross, I thought of that Game 7 home run. I thought of Wrigley. I thought... "I have to get a picture of him. Just for me." So, he took a seat, gazed out at the field, I took a picture, gazed down at the photo, and smiled.

This photo will graze my office wall for years to come. To me, the photograph represents hope... dreams... magic. Not only David Ross’s magical legacy and the Chicago Cubs finally accomplishing that World Series dream, but my own hopes and dreams. Hoping to be the best sports photographer I can be, giving athletes amazing photos that immortalize their most intense moments of glory. Dreaming of one day shooting Major League Baseball. This photo will forever encourage me to follow my dreams and remind me that anything is possible.

Thank you, Grandpa Rossy.


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