In the first hour of Sunday, April 29, Cardinals relief pitched Josh Hancock died in a car wreck. On a highway leaving downtown, a 28,000 pound flatbed tow tow truck was on the left shoulder, assisting a disabled vehicle. The shoulder was narrow and the truck extended into the traffic lane. Hancock's SUV hit the back of the tow truck. There was no indication that he braked. Hancock was killed instantly.
Later that day, Cardinal fans began to leave expressions of grief and sympathy at the gates of the stadium. Hancock had pitched the afternoon before his death, when the Cubs drubbed the Cardinals 8 to 1. News outlets began to report that Hancock had spent that evening at a steakhouse and bar near the stadium, drinking with friends. The restaurant manager offered to call a taxi, which Hancock declined. It was also reported that three days previously Hancock showed up late for a day game, hung over.
A daily photo blog has an open maw that requires constant feeding. My office is near the stadium so I went there at lunch time yesterday to photograph the scene. I had a cynical attitude: Hancock was probably drunk. On the day Princess Diana died I was in Toronto and remember the mountain of flowers at the gates of the British consulate. At Christmas after 9-11 I was in New York, my home town, walking by the fence of Trinity Church in lower Manhattan, densely woven with individual expressions of grief. At a glance, the balloons and signs at the stadium gate seemed tiny, a bit pathetic, in comparison. As I kept looking and shooting, looking and shooting, I realized that what I saw was just as heartfelt, as genuine an expression of painful emotion. On the walk back to my office, tears welled up in the corners of my eyes.
TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series