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Jim Drake, Who Captured Joe Namath on Broadway, Dies at 89

  • January 27, 2022

His lens caught the transcendent forward Julius Erving soaring toward a basket; the Cincinnati Reds’ catcher Johnny Bench chasing a pop fly with his tongue sticking out of his mouth; Jack Nicklaus, away from the golf course, eating a plate of four dozen oysters in Lafayette, La.; and National Hockey League players, none wearing helmets, looking like surreal warriors on ice in the dimly lit arenas of the 1960s.

Mr. Drake’s most famous photo was taken not in a stadium or an arena but in Times Square, in June 1965. His subject was Namath, then the ballyhooed rookie quarterback of the New York Jets with a contract worth $427,000, in full uniform.

“It was just like a natural thing: Let’s place him in the middle of nightlife, the heart of Broadway, the perfect match,” Mr. Drake told Mark Kriegel in an interview in 2002 for “Namath: A Biography” (2004).

The shoot that day was supposed to take place at dusk, with the sky and silhouettes of buildings still visible. But Namath arrived late, in a limousine, so Mr. Drake photographed him lit by neon and strobe lights.

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