Coffey: Rollie Fingers’ three days as a Red Sox

From Alex Coffey at on October 4, 2016:

Forty years after his camera captured an historic baseball image, Doug McWilliams still remembers the early-evening radiance of the California sun.

“I always went to the Oakland Coliseum at 5:30 p.m.,” McWilliams said. “Always. The light was beautiful with flash fill.”

McWilliams, a veteran photographer for Topps, the baseball card company, was instructed by his employers to refrain from shooting players at night games, as they felt the images would not be as sharp. But McWilliams, who was once hailed as one of “America’s best known sports photographers” opted to trust his instincts, which told him you could never tell when you’d be in position to get the perfect shot. So McWilliams regularly showed up at night games, being sure to get there early.

His instincts were right. And the result was a photograph that remains the only one of its kind: A portrait of Hall of Fame relief pitcher Rollie Fingers, donning his brand-new Boston Red Sox road grays, during the first of the three days he was a member of the organization. The image – a startling reminder of perhaps the most infamous series of transactions in baseballs annals – never made it into mass production, yet would one day be preserved at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, part of the thousands of other negatives from McWilliams’ collection, all of which he generously donated to the Museum’s Photo Archive in 2010.

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Originally published: October 5, 2016. Last Updated: October 5, 2016.