This was the appetizer for the main course that I was served on Saturday afternoon. Keep reading and looking.
When baseball players are mired in a deep batting slump, they must keep focused.
They take extra batting practice and field extra balls. But what do veteran railfan photographers do? They keep going trackside, keep pressing the shutter release button and hope that they get a break.
Of course, it doesn’t help to be sitting on the bench and seeing the “stars” of such sites as Railpictures.net and Trainorders.com hit pitch after pitch out of the park when you can’t make it to first base.
And so it has been for me this year. I’ve been thrown a lot of curve balls that I swung at and missed.
First, there was the Saturday back in early January after one of the East’s many snow and ice storms. Amtrak No. 49 was running about eight hours late with Phase III livery No. 822 on the lead.
I wasn’t working that day and there was brilliant sunshine. I was set up with good lighting just west of the Grand River in Painesville.
The pitch came sailing toward the plate. It was an eastbound CSX freight with an attractive lash-up. I worked it for a base on balls.
But no sooner had I gotten to first, No. 49 came rushing past on the other track and I missed the shot.
I had gotten picked off and went back to the dugout without having scored.
In March, we were on our way from back from Disney World about the Silver Meteor. To our surprise the Meteor came into the Orlando station with P42 No. 145, the Phase III heritage unit, as the second unit.
Alas, we were loaded down with luggage and my camera was packed away. The best shot I was able to get was from on board the train from our Viewliner sleeper room.
I would get another turn at the plate when we stopped in Jacksonville. But Amtrak threw me a high, hard one.
No. 145 was obstructed by the platform canopy. I call this getting on base by an error then getting stranded.
A few weeks ago, Jeff Troutman and I were all set to get the Norfolk & Western heritage unit at Bedford on a westbound.
As I stood in the batter’s box, an eastbound intermodal came creeping past. And I do mean creeping.
I could see the tail end of the intermodal coming, but I also could hear the approaching westbound.
The best I could do was to “see” the NS 8103 between the trailers of the eastbound. Finally, the eastbound cleared and I got a going away shot of the N&W unit.
I would score this getting to second base and then getting hit by a batted ball in fair territory. I trudged back to the dugout.
On Saturday morning, I got a phone call from Craig Sanders. Think my luck has been bad? He hasn’t photographed an NS heritage unit on the lead since last October. Talk about a slump.
With his encouragement in the form of letting me know that the Southern Railway heritage unit was leading the 22K eastward, I kept watching Heritageunits.com and Trainorders.com.
The 22K takes the former Nickel Plate Road to Buffalo and my house is just a few minutes away. It was my weekend off, the skies were blue and things seemed to be setting up in my favor. Over in Cleveland guys were hitting the ball out of the park like the wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field.
I camped out by the single track NKP for two hours. No way was I going to miss this one. The guy in the batting order ahead of me got on base when the 206 came past with a BNSF unit leading.
It was my turn to step into the box. And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go. And now the air is shattered by the force of Edward’s blow.
Casey might have struck out, but it felt good to finally be circling those bases after hitting one out of the park. It’s been a long time and I had almost forgotten what it feels like to score.
Photographs by Edward Ribinskas
Who would have thought getting a pumpkin and a war bonnet would be considered a disappointment?
Somewhere on the other side was the locomotive that I *really* wanted to get.
The best that I was able to do was only so-so.
Not much to work with here.
It’s better than nothing, I guess.
Just when I thought I was going to get a pitch that I could drive, I see this eastbound coming.
Somewhere between those trailers is the N&W heritage locomotive. You’ll need to look carefully.
It is almost in clear sight.
The best I was able to do in this at bat. At least it wasn’t trailing. Then it would truly be failure.
It might be. It could be.
It is! A home run!