Take Me Out to…Fort Bragg: An Epic Event Through the Lens of a News Photog

Michael Joyner

WRAL-TV News Photographer Michael Joyner captures the pre-game excitement at the historic Major League Baseball game at Ft. Bragg on Sunday, July 3, 2016.

When the Atlanta Braves took on the Florida Marlins in a historic game at Fort Bragg on Sunday, July 3, 2016, several CBC’ers were there in different capacities.  Yesterday we shared a viewpoint of the field from the perspective of Durham Bulls Director of Operations and Grounds Scott Strickland, who helped create the field in four months and man the field crew on the big weekend.  Today we hear from WRAL-TV News Photographer Michael Joyner, who helped capture the magic for WRAL viewers:

“It was a typical North Carolina summer weather day… 95 degree heat,” explained Joyner. “Chance of rain seemed inevitable.”

“We arrived for the media briefing and dog sniffing event,” he continued.  “Something I’ve done countless times on Fort Bragg.  It was already hot.  But while driving in, a heavy downpour came upon us (lighting included) and just drenched the area for about 20 minutes.  Once the lighting subsided, they let us out of the buses to enter the ball park.    Then the sun came back out… And holy moly the humidity shot up fast.   The kind of hot that makes your teeth sweat.”

Joyner worked alongside WRAL-TV Reporter Gilbert Baez.  They are the dynamic duo of the Big 5’s Fayetteville bureau.  Despite the heat, the pair dug in and worked as efficiently as possible to get what they needed for the stories.  They covered the people aspect of the game, while WRAL-TV’s sports team handled the game itself.

“Despite the muddy gravel roadways, it was spectacular.   The field was outstanding,” said Joyner.  “The grass looked wonderful, booming sound system, and the whole place looked like it had been there for years.  It was really hard to tell it was a temporary set up.”

Then Joyner and Baez got to work.

“After getting video and interviews, we headed back to the media tent,” said Joyner.  “They had a nice air-conditioned tent set up for us (did I mention the air-conditioning?).  Even had drinks and a catered dinner to boot.   Great little set up.   Lots of tables set up for the dozens of media outlets covering the big event.”

To stay in the AC, Joyner had to get creative.

Michael Joyner

WRAL-TV News Photographer Michael Joyner creates a make-shift work station in the over-full Media Tent at the historic Major League Baseball game at Ft. Bragg on Sunday, July 3, 2016.

“But alas, there wasn’t quite enough tables with electricity to work on,” he continued.  “So I didn’t let that slow me down. I found an outlet on the floor, near the table where Gilbert and Mandy [WRAL-TV Sports Anchor Mandy Mitchell] set up.  Also in close proximity to the trash can.  I set up my laptop on a box of courtesy umbrellas. (That was a risky move because if the rain came back, I’d lose my desk.)  And proceeded to get our story ready.”

Thankfully the weather held, and Joyner didn’t lose his make-shift set-up.

“After our 6pm live shot we heading back into the stadium to find our main target for the day:  a 90+ year old WWII vet,” Joyner continued.  “He was a huge Braves fan and got a surprise ticket to the game.   He was a great interview.  A real honor to meet the man.  Working around Fort Bragg we often run into these virtually unknown American heroes.  It never gets old.”

The magic of America’s favorite pastime with an audience of those who defend and serve America was a winning combination.

“By this time the stands were filling up,” Joyner said.  “Game time was fast approaching.   The heat was fading and a nice cool breeze was working its way across the diamond.   We stayed as long as we could taking in the atmosphere.  But our deadline and the fact that ESPN was kicking out all the non-ESPN cameras when the broadcast started, forced us back to the media tent.  And unfortunately that was the last time I saw the field.  I was editing and preparing for the later newscast while all the fun was being had inside the stadium. Ah, the glamor of TV news.   I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Read about the point of view of Durham Bulls’ Scott Strickland:

Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Michael Joyner for these capcom photos.


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