James A. Drake, award-successful Sports Illustrated photographer, dies at 89

Yoshiko Yap

James A. Drake, 89, a longtime award-winning photographer for Sporting activities Illustrated magazine, who trotted the world and manufactured some of his era’s most indelible illustrations or photos, died Monday, Jan. 10, of lung cancer at his property in Philadelphia.

Starting in 1959, Mr. Drake put in just about 4 decades publishing some of the most iconic sports activities images ever taken. Sports Illustrated devoted 79 of its famous addresses to his shots, and his list of subjects is a who’s who of the athletics scene in the course of the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.

Assigned to go over some of the world’s most significant online games, matches, meets, fights, tournaments, and races, Mr. Drake photographed superstars in almost just about every sport. Joe Namath, Nadia Comaneci, Bobby Orr, Arnold Palmer, Richard Petty, Muhammad Ali, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Larry Fowl, Joe Paterno, Mike Tyson, Michael Jordan, and innumerable some others grace his portfolio.

His action picture of Palmer at the 1964 U.S. Open up was even made use of in 2020 on a U.S. postage stamp.

A lifelong Philadelphian and die-difficult lover of the Eagles, Phillies, and 76ers, Mr. Drake mentioned some of his favorite shots were being of Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Randall Cunningham, Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, Wilt Chamberlain, Maurice Cheeks, and Julius Erving. Mr. Drake also produced photographs of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan Vice President Hubert Humphrey and actor Steve McQueen.

Mr. Drake was in Augusta, Ga., in 1963 when Jack Nicklaus gained his very first Masters event with a remarkable 3-foot putt on the final gap. He was at Madison Square Back garden in 1971 when Joe Frazier defeat Ali in the first of their a few famous fights. And he was at the 1972 Summer time Olympics in Munich, Germany, when Palestinian terrorists took nine Israelis hostage.

If the occasion drew around the world interest, it also drew Mr. Drake. “Jim was a gentleman in the truest perception of the phrase,” mentioned fellow photographer Neil Leifer, who, together with Mr. Drake and Walter Iooss Jr., anchored the Sporting activities Illustrated picture office for years. “I regarded as Jim the greatest photographer among the three of us for the duration of that period, and in my belief he was the very best golfing photographer ever.

Closer to dwelling, Mr. Drake took shots of the Mummers on New Year’s Working day, fatigued rowers on the Schuylkill, and the Philadelphia landscape from all angles. He also contributed photographs to the 1968 reserve Philadelphia: The Personal Metropolis.

In addition to Sports Illustrated, Mr. Drake’s pictures appeared in Everyday living magazine, the Saturday Evening Write-up, and other publications. He still left Sports activities Illustrated in 1980 to come to be photograph editor at Within Athletics journal. He returned to Sports Illustrated in 1986 and stayed till 1990, when he still left to freelance for ABC Athletics. He retired in 1994.

Mr. Drake gained a number of awards for his get the job done, which include the 2010 Lucie Award from the Los Angeles-based Lucie Foundation for “achievement in sports activities pictures.” In a little bit of irony even he acknowledged to PennLive.com reporter David Jones in 2021, Mr. Drake claimed: “I really don’t like my picture taken.”

Former Sporting activities Illustrated publisher Donald J. Barr, in describing a 1986 image essay on baseball, praised Mr. Drake for looking for a “subtler suggests of expressing the pressures and frustrations” of the gamers. 1 of his most loved pictures in the show, Mr. Drake mentioned then, was of an old pitcher trudging off the discipline towards the locker space, “so expressive of the aged-timer, yanked out, let down, bent and fatigued.”

Born April 6, 1932, and raised in North Philadelphia, Mr. Drake was a star sprinter and hurdler in higher faculty at William Penn Charter University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English and journalism in 1955 from the College of Pennsylvania, spent two years in the Military, and honed his eye at the Trentonian newspaper in Trenton and the Bucks County Traveler journal.

He fulfilled librarian Jean Casten in 1959 on assignment in Philadelphia. They married, had sons Chris and Patrick, and lived in Philadelphia. She died in 2016.

When he was not guiding the digital camera, Mr. Drake favored to paint in watercolors and pastels, check out old Humphrey Bogart videos, camp, hike, and spend summertime times at Wildwood Crest.

Routinely a late sleeper thanks to his agenda, he would even so make his way to the dwelling place in time for Eagles games on Sundays, usually exclaiming to his sons, “These early games are murder.”

“He had a excellent feeling of humor,” mentioned his son Patrick.

“He was the kindest, most mild particular person,” reported his son Chris. “He constantly told us that he did what he constantly dreamed of performing.”

In addition to his sons, Mr. Drake is survived by 3 grandchildren and other family.

Products and services were Saturday, Jan. 15.

Donations in his name may be built to Old 1st Reformed Church, 151 N. Fourth St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19106.

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