One day after arriving in Fort Lauderdale to cover the Baltimore Orioles, I was met by Associated Press photographer Rob Carr, who also made the trip from Baltimore to cover spring training at the team's winter home. I warned Carr that I had had a history of covering big stories that broke during spring training.
Carr listened while I rattled off the memories of breaking away from baseball in February 1998 to cover the Kissimmee tornado outbreak that killed dozens near Orlando. Recalling an earlier tragedy in which I followed the story of two Cleveland Indians players, killed when their fishing boat slammed into a pier on Little Lake Nellie in March 1993, I predicted that we would cover a news event on a national or international scale this time around.
The following week, news swept around the world that Fidel Castro had resigned as president of Cuba.
Carr sat in a dugout, chatting with AP editors about plans to document reactions in southern Florida. My call to the picture desk in Baltimore reached Bob Hamilton, the assistant managing editor for photography. I paced along the dugout as he met with The Sun's editor and managing editor to plan our coverage.
Since I had already taken plenty of shots of the position players, pitchers and catchers for future use, I drove to "Little Havana" in Miami to document the reaction of residents. Because of initial uncertainty of how the crowd might react, John Labandera, an officer working security at the stadium, advised me to use low-profile equipment, so I brought my compact Panasonic Lumix camera, which takes still images and wide-screen video.
The reaction of residents was mixed. Some were happy; others seemed more stoic as they absorbed the news. Still others argued passionately in Spanish.
In the end, I was happy to keep a low profile on the streets as I shot photos and a short video for baltimoresun.com. It allowed me to portray a more natural setting, rather than showing residents who were performing for the camera.