Shirtless Shortstops: The Photo That Will Live In Infamy

A report from earlier this week covered the 25th Anniversary of one of the most important photos in baseball (and potentially world) history.  That’s right, it’s the shirtless shortstop photo, a magnificent and confusing piece of late 1990s nostalgia.  Before going any further, it’s important to revisit this masterpiece in all its glory: 

Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez and Rey Ordóñez, all lounging in baseball pants and necklaces, staring at the camera with expressions ranging from discomfort to, in Jeter’s case, smoldering desire and what appears to be a flex that would make Instagram bros jealous. As the story explains, Nomar Garciaparra, although at the beginning of his career as well, was not involved due to the Red Sox denying the request since they weren’t able to “guarantee him being the starting shortstop.”  But for those who did participate, the photo would live in infamy.  In explaining how the day unfolded, photographer Walter Iooss said he couldn’t recall whether he’d asked the players to remove their shirts or whether it’d been suggested by one of them first. Either way, an unsurprising ringleader emerged: Alex Rodriguez.  According to the story, Iooss said, "I'm sure A-Rod was the first to take it off. Oh yeah, he was like Ronaldo or something." Well at least A-Rod is nothing if not consistent. It’s hard to believe that the photo accompanied an excellent story explaining how this group of shortstops was one of the best to arrive in the majors since World War II, and it’s even harder to believe that anyone actually read the story after seeing this photo. 1998 was one of the most important years for baseball in a long time, with the chase to break the single season home run record between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa making national headlines. But a few years ago, a Google search result for the 1998 season didn’t turn up a photo of one or both of the famous sluggers, it resulted in this remarkable image: