Before the 2020 season began, New York Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino decided to document what was sure to be one of the most unusual years in MLB history.
Armed with a Leica M240, a trio of lenses and an iPhone, he snapped photos of his teammates and their often surreal surroundings, keeping an eye out for moments that highlighted the quirks, oddities and absurdities of playing professional baseball in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic.
"A bit into the season, I just texted some people and was like, 'Take a look at these. Do you think these are cool and all?'" Ottavino told ESPN. "And then we ended up here."
To get a behind-the-scenes look at a year in the life of a ballplayer during the coronavirus pandemic, ESPN asked Ottavino to share some of his favorite photographs and the stories behind them.
'It just made me feel like there's no way this season is happening'
ADAM OTTAVINO: During the shutdown, Gerrit [Cole] had moved to Connecticut, and that's pretty close to where I live. We discussed on my drive up from Tampa throwing together, so for a while, we were throwing in my yard. Then eventually, as we got closer to summer camp finally starting, the Yankees let us back in the stadium. Obviously I knew that there was a narrative on Gerrit coming to the Yankees as a big free agent. People were probably dying to see him on the field. So I figured it was a good opportunity to kind of present him with the whole stadium empty there and just kind of get that epic shot. It was the first time he was there as a Yankee, even though it's not a game.
ESPN: It seems like a super intimate moment, the first time pitching off the Yankee Stadium mound. That could've easily been lost to history.
OTTAVINO: I wanted the fans to get excited. We knew baseball was coming back kind of soon at that point. I just knew what it meant because I was a Yankee fan growing up, so I knew what the anticipation of him coming to the team meant. I just wanted to put a little teaser out for them.