To mark Derek Jeter’s final Opening Day in pinstripes, the organization began a season-long lovefest by inviting teammates Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera to participate in a first-pitch ceremony at Yankee Stadium. Balls were lobbed into gloves and the group mingled for a moment before the shortstop moved toward the dugout, his gaze focused on the nine innings ahead.
Ariele Goldman Hecht needed her shot, one she refused to miss. Nine months pregnant, the photographer marched onto the infield grass and intercepted the captain, directing him to pose with the other members of the "Core Four." Jeter offered a bemused grin as Pettitte and Rivera each flung his arms around their friend’s back. Click, click, click, click. Satisfied that the moment was captured, she thanked Jeter and sent him on his way toward the Hall of Fame.
“I was so nervous of going into labor,” Goldman Hecht said with a laugh. “Both of my pregnancies, I worked up until the very end. I was very lucky that I felt good, and so I wanted to work. I just didn’t want to go into labor during Derek Jeter’s final Opening Day.”
The Yankees’ chief photographer and senior photography editor, Goldman Hecht has snapped thousands of photos each day over the past decade-plus, documenting a pivotal period in franchise history. She has been a witness to the transition from the "Core Four" to the "Baby Bombers," including the World Series title in 2009, and accompanied the club when it moved across 161st Street into their current state-of-the-art facility.
Each moment spent on the field or in the photo well is prized, responsibilities balanced with her equally important roles as mom to Sadie (9) and Devyn (7) and wife to Seth.
“When I’m home, it’s mommy mode,” Goldman Hecht said. “They know who the players are, but I think they hear about that more from school than from me. There’s not much talk about baseball because I want to hear about their day, but they’re aware of my schedule -- day games, night games, home and road. It’s all about balancing the calendars; mine, my husband’s, the kids' and the Yankees'.”
One of numerous "working moms" in the Yankees' organization, Goldman Hecht showed interest in photography from a young age, frequently clutching a toy camera in her kindergarten class. She snapped Polaroids of grinning friends at Tripp Lake Camp in Maine, studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin, then focused on photography at a San Francisco graduate school.
“I’m a nostalgic person; I like holding on to the memories of things,” Goldman Hecht said. “I’m a very visual person, and this is how I’m able to do that. I loved the darkroom and the surprise of developing the pictures. Digital is different now, but it was hit or miss then; there were no redos or chances to tweak it if you got it wrong.”
A chance encounter with a fellow camp alum at a New York department store opened the door for a one-day press pass to shoot from the Yankee Stadium camera well in 2003. That trip to The Bronx created connections. When Yankees Magazine needed a photographer, she answered the call: first as a freelancer, then as a full-time staff member in August '05.
Over the years, she has developed deep friendships with many players, including former Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius -- an avid shutterbug in his own right.
“I took pictures of him in front of his locker with the jersey on, and it was just an immediate connection,” she said. “He’s one of my closest friends. He’s so creative; I take zero credit for teaching him. If anything, he teaches me stuff.”
Looking back through the lens of her Yankees career, Goldman Hecht said that “it takes a village,” and she is appreciative of her Yankees Magazine teammates: Al Santasiere III, Nathan Maciborski and Jon Schwartz. She offered special thanks to Barrie Schneiderman, who joined the Yankees in 2016 as a staff photographer and has helped to balance the demands of the position.
“This has been something that I’ve always loved,” Goldman Hecht said. “I’m very fortunate that what started as a hobby has become my vocation. It’s something that I still truly love to do every day.”