June 29, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut
La Mesa Little League Baseball – Kuhlken Field
Yesterday, I happened to be passing by Kuhlken Field and I saw that a little league baseball game was about to start. The all star teams from Tierra Santa and Serra Mesa were about to play.
Baseball Players Warm Up Before The Game
Once I saw that a baseball game was about to start I completely abandoned what I was doing and headed straight for the bleachers. The smell of baseline chalk, leather, hot dogs and pretzels instantly transported me back to the mid 1980′s, when I was playing little league baseball.
The Pitcher Warms Up
The first thing that I noticed (photographically) from the bleachers was the chain link fence between me and the action on the field. Even with my smallest f/stop, I couldn’t make the fence completely disappear, so I watched the players warm up from the shade of the bleachers, but once the game started, I placed myself under the sun, along the third baseline. From this vantage, I had a clear view of all the bases and the action that would surround them.
The Action Begins For La Mesa Little League Baseball
I was hoping to get at least one shot like the one above. I wanted to get some action shots and some photos that would help settle an argument, and that would just be generally exciting. That is exactly what I got.
Out At First Base!
There are a lot of close plays in little league, and the umpires were on top of every one. They did a great job of keeping things moving and accurately making close calls, like the one above.
Batter, Catcher And Umpire At The Moment Of A Foul Tip
The biggest difference between a little league and a professional baseball game is the wild card factor. In pro ball, specific pitches, hits and strategies will have a desired outcome 99% of the time. In little league, EVERY pitch and EVERY hit is a wild card, so the games are infinitely more exciting.
Stealing Second Base
I won’t lie, I pictured myself somewhere in PETCO Park snapping shots of famous millionaires when I took some of the photos for this post. As I baked under the sun and watched these boys play I realized that the heart these kids, coaches and parents have is so much bigger than professional baseball players. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean it in the way that no player on a little league field is paid to be there, yet they still swing, run and throw as if millions of dollars were on the line. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, when I saw this game about to start I was taken back to the mid 1980′s when I was in little league and there was no such thing as a millionaire athlete.
Keep Your Eye On The Ball
There are so many reasons for a child to take up some form of sports, and the best one I can think of is that you may end up in an action packed photo essay like this one. Families converging on a baseball field on a Sunday afternoon, with both dugouts shouting nothing but positive things while the spectators in the bleachers clapped and cheered for every play was my backdrop, so I knew right away this would be fun and the photos would be great.
Safe At Third Base
There was a lot of action at all the bases, and at home plate as well. As a photographer it is nice to be able to get so physically close to the action that a long lens is not necessary. I had a 55-200mm attached to my Nikon D5000 and it was more than adequate.
Sliding Into Second Base
Something that was new to me was the Little League Pledge. It was recited by all the players just before the game started:
I trust in God
I love my country
and will respect its laws
I will play fair
and strive to win
but win or lose
I will always do my best
The Action Never Stops During La Mesa Little League Baseball
The photo above was a very close play, but the runner slid across home plate just ahead of the tag, scoring the first run of the game.