Last Year’s Best of the Main Line and Western Suburbs issue was our third biggest seller ever—and that, frankly, surprised all of us in the editorial department. Granted, it’s always our most anticipated issue of the year, but our 2009 Cole Hamels cover shoot didn’t exactly go as planned.
The pitcher was as busy as ever after the Phillies’ championship season, so we had to work around his hectic schedule. Ultimately, that meant catching up with him—and wife Heidi—during a charity event at Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum. We had all of five minutes to snap the photos, and the harried, paparazzi-style nature of the shoot shows in the finished product.
Our aesthetic concerns notwithstanding, the issue flew off the newsstands. So this year, we figured, “Why mess with success?” We went right back to the Phillies, requesting some time with Shane Victorino, who was named this year’s Best Pro Athlete by our readers. As it happens, one of his favorite restaurants, Blue Fin in Plymouth Meeting, received Best Sushi honors from our critics. (OK, so Plymouth Meeting isn’t technically the Main Line, but it might as well be now that we have the Blue Route.)
On May 5, a day after Hamels turned in a dominant pitching performance against the St. Louis Cardinals, this year’s cover boy spent a morning with staff photographer Jared Castaldi, creative director Ingrid Lynch and senior writer J.F. Pirro at Blue Fin, arriving in great spirits with a few shirts from his favorite designer, Ed Hardy.
“If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge Phillies fan, so I was excited to shoot Shane,” says Castaldi. “I’d heard he was a laid-back guy. And he was—very easy to talk to and photograph. He rolled up in one of the biggest trucks I’ve ever seen, which wasn’t what I was expecting.”
Pirro’s interview with Victorino can be found here. Small talk centered around the guy who’d just been Tasered at Citizens Bank Park a few days earlier, and the second fan who ran onto the field the following night. Victorino was pretty peeved by the whole thing, saying it put him and the other players in a potentially dangerous position.
Blue Fin owner/chef Yong Kim offered Victorino the sushi used in the shoot, but he turned it down, saying he doesn’t eat before a game. Later that day, he would hit a solo home run—apparently on an empty stomach.