Posted in Behind the News

Jeter triumphant: How I got that shot

, by Lauren Easton

Associated Press photographer Julie Jacobson has won a Front Page Award from the Newswomen's Club of New York for best sports photo, showing a triumphant Derek Jeter in his final home game at Yankee Stadium last year.

We asked Jacobson, a longtime baseball fan, what she recalled of the winning moment.

"I think it was the best and most memorable moment in baseball that I've ever witnessed, both as a fan of the game and as a photographer," she said.

In this Sept. 25, 2014, file photo, New York Yankees' Derek Jeter jumps after hitting the game-winning RBI single against the Baltimore Orioles in the ninth inning of a baseball game in New York. The Yankees won 6-5. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

She continued:

“That last game everyone knew it was all about Derek Jeter, so everyone was focused on him more than anyone or anything else. Win or lose, the outcome of the game made no difference to the Yankees' playoff situation. They weren’t going no matter what. But I think everyone in that stadium, journalists included, wanted to see the Yankees win so Jeter could leave on a high note. Even if you’re not a Yankee fan, Jeter was and still is highly respected and loved in the game ... “As the bottom of the ninth inning approached, I saw on the scoreboard that Jeter would be the third batter up and thought, ‘No. Could it really be?’ And when the leadoff batter got on base and ended up at second on a sacrifice bunt by Brett Gardner, I thought, ‘Wow, just what if? How cool would that be?’ “There was no other story that night. All anyone cared about was how Jeter was going to finish his career. And it seemed like the whole thing had been set up for a storybook ending ... “As Jeter stood in the batter’s box, every photographer had their lens trained on him. Regardless of what he did, I was going to stay on him. As he swung at the first pitch, slapping a single to right field, I shot the swing and followed him down the first base line. It was clear from his body language that it was a hit. Without taking my eyes off Jeter, I thought to myself, ‘That’s a hit, a run will score, Yankees win, when is he going to react?! What’s he going to do?!’ “The whole play seemed to take forever to unfold. Jeter went all the way to first without reacting. In baseball, as with any sport, you just can’t fully predict where the picture will be or how it will go down. “It wasn’t until after he had rounded first base and saw the runner safe at home that he finally turned my way and jumped. I was on him the whole time, and as he leaped in the air I fired the camera. It all suddenly looked like it was happening in slow motion. When I saw the replay on TV later that evening, it all happened so fast. But in my frame, it was slow motion. I know every other photographer in the third base photo bay with me was shooting, but I only heard my shutter going off and nothing else until his feet were back on the ground with his teammates running to mob him. I had these mixed emotions, one as a photographer who’s making a nice picture and knows I have it and the other as a fan who was elated for Derek Jeter. I think everyone in the stadium went home that night feeling good, even if you weren’t a Yankee fan."

Jacobson will be honored along with AP journalists Jennifer Peltz and Colleen Long, who together won the spot news award for their report on the shooting deaths of two New York police officers. Peltz also will claim the feature prize, for her story about the daring escape of two men from Clinton Correctional Facility last summer, when the Newswomen's Club of New York presents the awards on Nov. 12.