Mark Appel for Sports Illustrated
Posted on June 7, 2013
Mark Appel of Stanford University pitches during the game against UNLV at Sunken Diamond on March 8, 2013 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin)
Stanford right-handed pitcher Mark Appel was selected as the first pick by the Houston Astros in the Major League Baseball draft on Thursday night. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Appel just completed his senior year at Stanford where he went 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 106 1-3 innings. After refusing to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates last year after being picked 8th overall in the 2012 draft Appel returned to the Cardinal for his senior year, and it was a wise choice as he will now be able to lace’em up for his hometown Astros.
I had the chance to photograph Appel on assignment for Sports Illustrated in early march on a cold and blustery night at at Sunken Diamond on the Stanford campus. The magazine was doing a story about draft prospects and my job was simple: shoot everything Appel did from the minute he stepped onto the field before the game until he was finished.
What a dream assignment this was! I had not been to Sunken Diamond in a long time, and it is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world to watch a ballgame. The sun was setting fast during pre-game so I knew the mound would be in full shade by the time Appel threw the first pitch of the game at 5:30pm. Thanks to my Canon EOS-1DX I did not worry that the mound would not be lit by the setting sun. Even though the field kept getting darker and darker as the innings and strikeouts piled up the files looked amazing. I was confident that my picture editor Nate Gordon would have plenty of nice frames to choose from.
Being the knucklehead that I am I was still wearing shorts by the time Appel left the game after 7 innings. I was freezing my ass off. Why was I wearing shorts? I had just returned from over two weeks of glorious weather in Arizona where I was shooting spring training. Once I get into the mental state of sunshine and baseball I hate going back to wearing my jeans!
I can’t wait to see Appel get signed and pursue his career as a professional. It is always a thrill to shoot a kid in college, or the minors, and then see him succeed at the big league level. I hope I get the chance to shoot Appel in the visiting Astros grey unis taking the mound in Oakland against the A’s within two years.