Year in Pictures 2021
Boy oh boy, what a year it was in European baseball and softball. Locally, we were able to pull of not one, but three European Championship tournaments in 2021: men's and women's softball plus men's baseball. The women's baseball championship was not scheduled because this was supposed to be the Women's Baseball World Cup year. That event, unfortunately, had to be postponed until at least 2022.
These tournaments, along with a few additional local-team tournaments in men's baseball and women's softball, gave some of Europe's top sports photographers the opportunity to capture the action once again! That means, finally, we are able to bring back the Year in Pictures - the EBSM staff's FAVORITE annual piece!
We're starting off with a new arrival to our photographer pool for 2021. Tim Hundsdorger is an American living in France and having a ton of fun getting to experience Europe's games! This photo was taken during the 2021 Men's Baseball European Championship, hosted by Italy.
During that championship, Corrado Benedetti, was shooting in his homeland and loving it! He captured the sentiment in this shot, taken of team Austria after their 3-run bottom of the 9th that gave them a 1-run victory over Belgium.
This was one of those games where, no matter your home team, no one's voice was safe. Scoreless through three, Belgium jumped ahead by 4 in the top of the 4th and Austria answered with 2 in the bottom half of the inning. Things settled back down until the bottom of the 6th when Austria added 5 runs, jumping ahead by 3. Belgium answered in the top of the 7th with a run but Austria countered, after a pause to sing, with two of their own. Belgium got decisive about things in the top of the 8th, adding 6 runs to jump ahead. Heading into the bottom of the 9th, Belgium was up 11-9.
Despite being taken on the first day of tournament play, you can understand the exuberance captured in this shot after a game like that!
Benedetti's work with The Old Man Agency is the stuff of legend in Europe's sport's photography community. In addition to releasing a book on Italian baseball, and being the official photographer of the national team's 2020 calendar, Corrado's work is regularly featured by Nadoc Media.
During the 7th game for Team France in the European championship, catcher Camille Riera takes a solid delivery in a shot French photographer Glenn Gervot calls Fire Pitch.
Glenn Gervot has been an annual contributor to EBSM and we couldn't be happier about it. Gervot, like our editor Sam, has a soft-spot for catchers. Between the equipment and action they are, without question, one of the toughest to capture at work in a way that allows you to see the person as well as the play. You can recognize Glenn's passion and patience in every shot he produces for this beloved position.
This photo makes us want to give the runner a hug. He looks like he's about to take his base and go home for the day. The shortstop and umpire each seem to empathize. We're not sure what the play looked like ahead of this shot but this is certainly proof positive that a well-focused camera can capture a mood.
Capturing the agony of defeat above, here Stuttgart Reds team photographer Iris Drobny grabs baseball's version of the evil eye, a fate often laid upon the backs of umpires. Disagreeing with the call, the Mannheim Tornadoes runner double checks with the boys in blue before heading into the dugout.
Iris Drobny has been shooting for the Stuttgart Reds for so long her son, a child when she began, now coaches in the youth program. She has also been the official photographer of the German national team at all age levels. You can see more of her work at Drobny Photography and learn more about it through our Life Of feature, which takes you through a day in the life of a sports photographer.
This play at second comes from Max Hernandez. Arhus Athletic Luis Marcos slides safely into second during game two of the Danish championship finals.
Max is a new shooter in 2021. He is a freelance photographer from Honduras who often shoots in Europe, especially Spain. Currently residing in Denmark, he inherited his interest in baseball from his own father and passed has that passion onto his middle son, who now plays. He covers the local Athletics Arhus club.
Photo Bass was one of three official photographers at the Men's Baseball European Championship this year. Over 8 days Lauro Bassini estimates he took more than 6,000 shots in the 18 games that he photographed. As hard at work as he was, this year, he asked us to highlight, not his own outstanding performance during the tournament, but that of the grounds crew.
As often happens with any major event, the folks who put in the most effort get the least amount of recognition and, it is often those who are on the ground, contributing in their own special ways, who are the only folks around to witness their dedication. Bassini, at the park early to set up his shot schedule for the day, recognized the enormous task ahead for the Turin-based grounds crew heading into the finals.
"At 10 in the morning I arrived at the field in Turin. They told me the field was flooded due to a water bomb that feel from 6-8am. In fact, as soon as I looked out at the field I saw in front of me a lake! The volunteers did not lose heart. They called four vacuum trucks and sucked up all the water, then replaced the soaked red earth.
I assure you that no one believed we would be playing at 3:30pm as scheduled but, you can see from my photos, the field was perfect as Italy took on Spain in the final, which started right on time! FIBS President Andrea Marcon, he too was as incredulous as we were. He thanked all the people who did their utmost to pull off this miraculous recovery!"
In addition to collaborating with the Federation on national events, Photo Bass became the official photographer for Fortitudo Bologna Baseball in 2021. Lauro told EBSM he enjoyed the opportunity of working with both Corrado Benedetti and Enzo Ratti at the Men's Baseball European Championship, and gives special credit to his number one assistant this season, his wife, who helped keep his life off the field in top order so he could enjoy his work on the diamond.
Team GBR's RHP Chris Messer strikes out Beglium's last batter to secure Great Britain's 6th place finish in the men's baseball European championship. This was the team's best finish since 2007. Over three games the 23-year old pitched 3.2 innings of perfect ball striking out 9 of the 11 batters he faced, forcing the remaining two to ground out.
Paul Stodart is the official photographer for Great Britain's national teams, both baseball and softball. Based in The Netherlands, Stodart shoots for major sporting and music events across Europe. His work is extensively used on social media and published in leading sports outlets, including the BBC. Paul specializes in sports, dance, theatre and music. He is always ready for a new photographic challenge.
Signed by the Cincinnati Reds in August of 2019, Willemstad, Curacao native Donovan Antonia was assigned to the Arizona Complex League Reds in June. Listed as a catcher Antonia played 31 games at 2B for the club this season batting just .155 while fielding .899 over 255 innings.
Since 2017, Phrake Photography has been EBSM's official MiLB and MLB photographer. Located in Arizona, Fredrik Bouw is a native of The Netherlands who enjoys capturing players from his homeland as they work their way through the MLB system.
There you have it, some of 2021's best photos, and their stories, picked by the photographers who captured the moments.
We cannot leave 2021 without a heartfelt thank you to the photographers who bring us European baseball and softball's top moments year-after-year. Without you, we don't exist. Our gratitude is unending. We wish you all great health and happiness in the new year.