Alumnus' photo book brings old stadium to life
By Steve Seepersaud
When Jon Plasse '72 started taking photographs inside the old Yankee Stadium, his goal was to simply recapture treasured memories from his childhood. At the time, he had no idea the stadium would be torn down, and that the images would be shared publicly with fellow sports fans.
Plasse's photographs will be in a book The Stadium, scheduled for publication by SUNY Press in September. Through 30 black-and-white images, the book documents areas of the recently-demolished structure, such as the ticket booths, hallways and stands. The book also includes quotes from people who had a connection to the old Yankee Stadium, such as through an umpire, food vendor, usher and merchandise seller. Plasse says the focus is secondarily on the players, and primarily on bringing to life the experiences and characters of the past.
"I was probably 9 or 10 years old when my Dad took me to the stadium for the first time," Plasse says. "I remember there being thousands of people. My Dad and I went up to the ticket seller, and he was a guy smoking a cigar, and he had this grizzled look. My Dad said to him, 'This is my son. Do the best you can for us.' And, of course, the seats were way up high."
Plasse's day job is senior partner at the New York-based law firm Labaton Sucharow, but he spends a good deal of time on his photo craft and has self-published two books, The Light Remains (2009) and Passing Moments (2008). Three years ago, he showed a color photo exhibition "Recurring Dreams" at Binghamton University's Rosefsky Gallery.
He shot the stadium images on film with a medium-format rangefinder camera, and had the photos printed by Kelton Labs. For publication in the book, the photos had to be subsequently digitized.
Because it reminds him of the first-ever visit to the stadium, Plasse says that one of his favorite photos in the book is one that shows circles of light among the railings leading to the ticket booth.
"We left that game early, and listened to the rest of it in the car," Plasse says. "I remember Mickey Mantle came up and hit a home run, and I would love to have seen that, but I got to talk to my Dad, and that was more important."
Plasse reluctantly admits that he has been to the Yankees' new ballpark. While he says the stadium is impressive, he probably won't have as much fun taking photos there as he did at the team's old digs.
"Looking at the scores and the advertising [in the new stadium], it seemed like there were too many colors. The old stadium seemed visually more pure."