A "Larger Than Life" Photographer Who Captured Images Of New York Sports Legends Has Died Of The Coronavirus
“He did everything out of the kindness of his heart … All he wanted was to just make people happy.”
Anthony Causi, a beloved New York Post sports photographer, died this week at 48 from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. In the wake of his death, his family, friends, and professional athletes whom he photographed have been celebrating his life and work.
“Anthony Causi was our colleague, our friend, and a brilliant journalist,” New York Post editor-in-chief Stephen Lynch said in the Post’s obituary for Causi. “He was, quite simply, one of the best sports photographers in New York City, capturing all the major moments of the past 25 years. Soft-spoken, funny, but most of all kind — he was respected by those he photographed and admired by those with whom he worked. The Post that you read, and the newsroom that we work in, are less colorful today because of his absence.”
Causi had been in Florida for about two months covering MLB spring training. Not long after coming back to New York, he was diagnosed with COVID-19, his family said. He died April 12 in a New York hospital.
“After days of struggling, he was hospitalized. Anthony was a fighter, he kicked ass, and did his very best, but after weeks of intubation, he lost the fight,” Causi’s niece Amanda Vitale, who organized a GoFundMe for his family, wrote on the page.
Later, in a phone call with BuzzFeed News, Vitale said Causi had diabetes, putting him at a higher risk for the disease. Causi and his wife, Romina, had two young children, John, who is 5, and Mia, who is 2.
The GoFundMe for his family raised nearly $170,000 in just two days. “Our family is SPEECHLESS with the momentum this has received and the generosity. We love you all,” Vitale wrote this week.
On Wednesday, Vitale shared Romina’s first statement since her husband’s death.
“This nightmare is a reality that I NEVER will be able to accept,” Romina wrote on Facebook. “There are so many things I want to say and so many of you that I want to thank. The magnitude of love, support and generosity is unimaginable. My husband was and will FOREVER be LARGER THAN LIFE. This can’t be real!!!”
Romina said she would make sure their two young children knew “the incredible man” her husband was with the help of their family and friends.
“I love you so much and wish this wasn’t real!!” she wrote. “I sincerely and truly thank EVERYONE for ALL of your calls, texts, messages, generosity, support, EVERYTHING!! I just wish there was a way my children and I could have him back."
Vitale, his niece, called him “uncomfortably humble.”
“He did everything out of the kindness of his heart. He never bragged,” she told BuzzFeed News. “All he wanted was to just make people happy.”
She also said the family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support since Causi’s death.
“We had no idea like, the magnitude of how incredible he was to strangers and, like, you know, all of these important people and Derek Jeter and A-Rod and all these sports broadcasters,” she said. “They were so touched by him, and that was really incredible for our family to experience, because I don't really think we understood the magnitude of how important he was to everybody else.”
Many of the athletes who Causi photographed remembered him on social media in the days following his death.
“This is devastating. Anthony was one of the best in the business. A true professional. He was kind, genuine, and [a] good personal friend. He will be missed by all who knew him,” New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard wrote on Twitter.
Todd Fraizer, who was photographed by Causi while playing for both the Mets and the Yankees, said in an Instagram Live video that “the Lord definitely got his angel photographer.”
"He's special to a lot of people," Frazier said of Causi. "I've been reading a lot of stuff about him and how he touched everybody. For me, we always had some fun, man. Every time we took a photo. He was a guy that had a great personality. We didn't talk about baseball at all. He's like, 'C'mon, let's get another picture.' He'd always want to make sure you got the best picture and I really enjoyed his company because there's a lot of photographers out there where you walk by that don't really want to talk to you — all about business. He put a smile on your face.”
New York Post sports columnist Mike Vaccaro said Causi built the trust of the athletes he covered in a remarkable way.
“He had just an innate ability to get people to trust him. Athletes in general, especially professional athletes, they're a generally distrustful lot, and you know, for some reason, almost all of them get to a point in their careers where they've been burned by this guy or that guy in the media,” Vaccaro said. “So they are very wary to open themselves up at all, but they would do things when Anthony asked that they wouldn’t do for anybody else. They would allow themselves to be posed and positioned. And they knew that he was ever going to embarrass them, and they knew that he would always show them in the best possible way.”
But Causi didn’t just photograph professional athletes. Vaccaro said Causi made a habit of photographing fans and everyday people going throughout their lives. He once captured a couple’s engagement in Central Park, and Vacarro said he would take time after long hours of work to photograph people at games.
“There are literally, literally thousands of photographs, all around New York, you know, inside scrapbooks and frames on walls and refrigerators people's phones that Anthony took, perfect strangers, people we just ran into literally on the street, in Central Park, in the ballpark, in the arenas,” Vacarro said. "He would take your picture, ask for their address, [and] send them these pictures. They would insist on paying, and he would always say, ‘Absolutely not.’ … [It was] the most extraordinary thing.”