For the start of the 2020 season, New York Yankees’ replacement Adam Ottavino decided to document one of the most unusual years in the history of MLB.

Armed with the Leica M240, a trio of lenses and an iPhone, he photographed his teammates and their often surreal surroundings, observing moments that revealed the peculiarities, madness and absurdity of professional baseball in the midst of a pandemic that takes place once every century.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino, the Yankee bookbinder, photographed one of the most surrealistic seasons in the history of the MLB MLB.

I’ve been a little carried away by the season, I’ve just written to a few people and thought about it: Take a look at this. You think it’s cool and stuff? Ottavino told ESPN. And then we ended up here.

To take a look behind the scenes at a year in the life of a baseball player during the coronavirus pandemic, ESPN asked Ottavino to share some of his favorite photos and stories.

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I just had the feeling it won’t bethis season.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

ADAM OTTAVINO: During the closing, Gerrit [Cole] moved to Connecticut, which is pretty close to my house. We talked about how I came all the way from Tampa to stop together, so we stopped for a while in my backyard. As summer camp approached, the Yankees finally let us return to the stadium. Of course, I knew the Yankees had a story about Jerry being a big free agent. People had to die to see him in the field. So I thought it would be a good opportunity to give him the whole stadium, leave it empty and make this epic shot. It was the first time he was there like a Yankee, even though it wasn’t a game.

ESPN: Seems like a super intimate moment, the first time you throw from a hill into Yankee Stadium. She could easily have been lost to history.

OTTAVINO: I wanted the fans to be excited. We knew baseball would be back soon. I knew what it meant because I was a Yankees fan growing up, so I knew how exciting it was to join the team. I just wanted to give them a little taste.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: That’s Jerrit Cole throwing himself in my backyard. Here’s another picture I took, similar to how we got to the stadium. I knew that people would somehow devour him, that he would repeat himself during the closing, only in a semi-secret place.

When we bought our house in Westchester, I had no idea we would be throwing bulls in the garden in the middle of summer to prepare for the season.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: You see the mask on the carriage, Mike [Wang] and then on [Aroldis Chapman] and how strange the scene looks. From the beginning. I think Chappy just came back with a positive response to VIDOC. It’s just in the gym, he stretches his arm, but both boys were wearing masks.

I only tried to make these recordings because, especially in the beginning, it was very uncomfortable to do everything you did before with much more care.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: It’s our COVID test. We had to do it every day, sometimes even every day, and that was only part of the process. It was second nature. Well, in the field, do the test. So I took a picture of the tube that shows what we do every day.

ESPN: What was your attitude towards KOVID-19 at the beginning of the season, and how did it change from the beginning to the end of the season?

OTTAVINO: I don’t know if I was ever afraid of any of the players, most of the boys are in very good health, but I was worried about the other family members. I’m worried about my parents. But I think we were curious at first: Can we all trust each other? How does it work? Are they gonna shut us down? Concern about the end of the season, especially the early start with the Marlins and the Cardinals.

As the season progressed, we discovered that everyone on the team was really involved, including the coaching staff, so we went around. We just had to stick to the program.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: So when you drove to the stadium and passed the loading dock, these receptors were installed there, and he drove quickly to your car, drove you through the window, and he measured your temperature and asked you to fill out a daily symptom screening questionnaire. If there had been a spit test that day, he would have told you to do it, but I thought it would be interesting to see how they were organised each day and how the process started. It looks very serious when you see a guy like that.

ESPN: What was it like that first day, when we saw a group of people dressed for a baseball game?

OTTAVINO: I just felt like nothing was happening this season. That’s the way it is. Okay, so we’re all doing this because it’s contagious. How can we not get them? Something bad is going to happen.

But of course we did, and that’s why we’re proud of it.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: Zach [Britton] is drinking coffee. He’s joking because we can’t use these baths because they’re dry. He stayed in the bathroom and drank his coffee the way I’m going to make it in my bath. I’m joking. I’m joking. The Bullpin boys always made jokes with each other.

ESPN: What other changes weren’t normal?

OTTAVINO: They’ve all split up and used the whole room. There were more buses than usual. Normally all players are on the same bus. There was now a bus for the position player, a bus for the pitcher, and as time went on, more and more buses came. We checked the temperature in the field every day, we filled in all the symptom sheets in our request, and then there were rules about wearing the mask indoors all the time [and] in the shelters as much as possible. It’s hard to remember everything because it has become second nature.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: It’s one of the team doctors talking to one of our head coaches. We’ve seen a lot of doctors on the team this year.

We had a lot of meetings, and there were zoom calls with women and family, everyone was talking to the doctors – everyone was trying to figure out what was going to happen this season.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: That’s what [Masahiro Tanaka] usually does before he starts, but you can tell things are different. The coaches were even better protected than all the others. They were two-legged and often wore shields and gloves because they touched all players.

I think they were under a little more pressure than the others, because that’s one of the places where, if they were positive for a while, it could really hit a lot of people.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: There’s a lot of people. [Mike] Touchman in the foreground, followed by [Eric] Kratz and then [Luke] Voight talking to Kratz downstairs. I think he just made his rounds. It’s a preamble. Clearly the boys are doing their job in the cages before the game.

ESPN: How has the audition program changed this year?

OTTAVINO: One of the biggest differences is that we spend less time in the field. They set the time a little later, so there wasn’t as much time as usual. It’s more like going out in the field, and you have so much time to prepare for what to do.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: I think it’s just summer camp. [Clint Frasier] is out there sprinting. I have the feeling that Clint is the one on our team who, surprisingly, wore the mask all the time, so he wore the mask all season, except maybe a few games at the end. Even though he scored. I think the only reason he changed his mask is because he wasn’t beaten a few times, but he was wearing a mask the whole time.

He said he was just trying to be as safe as possible, but I think he did it to seem a little intimidating.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: It’s the beginning of the season. I think [DJ LeMahieu] just finished a home run game. I was outside that day, so I wasn’t in jail. In the end, I was down. They’ve expanded the shelter.

What you see here are men with their hands up. Here the pitchers who are not in the game sit down so they don’t push themselves on the bench. I think it looks like a photographer’s fountain.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: Jordan Montgomery started the game and unfortunately it started to rain, so they pulled the sail and he did his best to stay in the game, hoping the rain wouldn’t last too long. So it’s a covered hill in the stadium, in a baseball cage, and he throws it there, trying to stay free, trying to shape the inning, hoping the team will let him come back.

I don’t think it worked. I think they finally took him, and I remember how upset he was because he was like that, man, I finally feel good tonight, and now I can’t serve.

One of the boys who hasn’t seen his family for a few months.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: It’s in Baltimore. We trained him in New York on a private Amtrak train. [Director Aaron Boone] stood there and watched everyone pass by, so I thought it was a good shot. It was quite late at night, we were in an empty train station in Baltimore that was usually full, and we took an empty train back to New York City to play baseball in the middle of a pandemic, so I thought the expression was something to capture.

ESPN: Is it unusual to ride the train as a team during the season?

OTTAVINO: Occasionally, apparently in Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C. or maybe Boston. I think players really prefer to fly. They tried to put us on the train, so we had a private train, but I think there were six or seven cars. We could really make room, so we tried to build a train if we could.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: It’s the process of getting on a plane. Guys, get off the bus, check IDs, check some people.

It’s Brett Gardner, hands down. Put your boots on.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: It’s J.A. Happ. Each of us had our own fight in the planes. Happ is from people who haven’t seen his family for months. He made a great sacrifice this year and just tried to stay locked up and serve well and I think he could have served that night.

He drinks beer, refreshes at the end of the day before his flight. He looks at his hand, he looks at the moneymaker.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: It was usually like this when the plane landed. They used to load all the bags in the truck and pick them up at the club, but this year people often split up, several times [the cars] directly from the plane, so everyone waited a bit for their own bags.

But it’s a process where everyone waits for your bag after landing – and usually ends up in a crowd of impatient people.

There is literally no one.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: For years, I visited all the stadiums before anyone came. I never really did the job. [Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Radiation Focus] Not last year, so this year we were gonna… I think their roof is so unique, and it’s such a unique place to play. It’s like playing in a conference center.

I grew up with it, and when I got there, I couldn’t believe how different it was.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: It’s the cameraman getting ready to film the game. There’s probably at least 30 minutes to go before the game starts, but you have no idea what the image looks like. There’s literally no one around.

He’s reading his book now and I thought the guy was there and he was getting ready to shoot this game to show people on TV, even though there is absolutely no one in this game.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: I tried to get a lot of things, like a lot of plates from the different baseball fields we were at. Just because they were literally different in each park, it was not interesting to see what each organization had found. Some had a little more personal contact than others.

ESPN: It’s also such an absurd sign. For example, if you had shown this picture to someone a year ago, it would have been so confusing.

OTTAVINO: Is this one of those things where you, is this really useful? But it was clearly by the book, so it was settled, and I just wanted to photograph a ridiculous sign.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: In Buffalo [at Salen Field, where the Toronto Blue Jays played most of their home games in 2020] an outdoor gym is installed. I think it might be a beer garden, mostly during their Triple A season there. But they put up these huge military tents that house our lockers.

The first time we drove, the weather was fine, and the second time it was pretty cold. So they didn’t have enough time for this external concept.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: A real Red Sox fan might know exactly where we stand. It resembles the whole third part where the visitor’s cloakroom is located, and it’s just interesting to see how it is arranged in this corridor.

ESPN: First of all, Fenway’s locker room is so small.

OTTAVINO: That’s right. They kept the coaches in place and brought all the players to the hall. I think I’ve been trying to show the uniqueness of this situation. You can see the brick, the sign. And the deejay’s locker. No offense, both players are popular, but I think it’s also very clear that this is Fenway.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: Is Kyle Higashioka, with a beer in his hand, mocking Eric Kratz, who’s standing right behind him, the same way he’s mocking me? We just beat Cleveland in the wild card series. That’s why there’s beer here. It wasn’t too much. This year we were not allowed to spray the bat or anything else, but Kyle has a very good impression of Kratz’ position in baseball.

You can also see on the photo that they have separated the lockers. These clear demarcation lines were something new for us.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: So in San Diego [in Petco Park, where the Yankees were locked out by the spokes], we lay down, we drove a lot, and it all happened in the lobby.

And of course, Giancarlo is a monster, so he has a 45-pound bar that he uses to relax. I found it interesting because most people use a small crankbait and it has a stem of 45 pounds. It was funny, and it shows that G is a little different from the other guys.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Adam Ottavino

OTTAVINO: It’s Tanaka. He sleeps there. I think the season just ended. We could have lost last night. I think we’re on our way to the plane or maybe the last game. It’s hard to say, but he was clearly resting on the bus.

I just thought it was a cool shot.

1927 yankees,2009 world series,ron guidry

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