During his 2003 injury rehab, Derek Jeter drew massive crowds playing for the Yankees’ Double-A team, the Trenton Thunder, including a teenage girl sobbing with joy in the front row during pregame warmups.
“Tears [were] rolling down her face,” recalled Dave Schofield, a Thunder team photographer since their inaugural 1994 season. Jeter approached the girl.
“Hi, I’m Derek. What’s your name?”
The girl was so stunned, “She couldn’t talk,” Schofield said. “Things like that you see on a rehab, they’re pretty special.”
After 48 years capturing such moments, Schofield retired in June at age 68. He also had shot for the Lakewood BlueClaws and Reading Fightin Phils, among other pro and college teams.
White haired and affable, the beloved Schofield was inducted July 1 by the Thunder into the Trenton Baseball Hall of Fame. Previous honorees include former Yankee pitcher Al Downing, sportswriter Bob Ryan, both Trenton natives, and ex-Thunder stars Tony Clark and Nomar Garciaparra. Before the Yanks, Trenton was a Tigers and Red Sox affiliate.
“[The Thunder will] always be very, very, very special to me,” said Schofield, who teared up during his pregame induction at Arm & Hammer Park.
Schofield’s lens has captured future Yankee greats such as Robinson Cano who, to this day, “will walk over and give me a big hug and say hello,” Schofield said.
Players that stand out to Schofield include Joba Chamberlain (“You knew there was that kind of zaniness going on”) and fan favorite Bernie Williams (“Great with the kids”).
Even Schofield’s tense moments are fond memories, like asking to take notoriously surly Albert Belle’s headshot.
Belle: “[Expletive] no!”
“OK, thank you very much,” Schofield responded, laughing at the memory.
During Rogers Clemens’ 2007 Trenton prelude to his Yankee return, Schofield shot the first three innings from a helicopter.
“We needed that crowd,” Schofield said of the 9,134. “Because we knew that was going to be giant.”
Retirement came just days before Schofield’s 45th anniversary married to his wife, Pat.
“I owe her a bunch of summers,” the long time Belmar, New Jersey resident said, appropriately from his hammock, having put a cap on his career. A lens cap, that is.