And yet, it doesn’t feel real until it arrives at your door.
Don’t pierce your heart until it knocks on your door.
Do not reveal his true cruel and insidious nature until he becomes a face.
Here at the New York Post, the virus now has a face and a name. It was Anthony J. Causi, he was a brilliant sports photographer whose images illuminated these pages for almost 26 years, whose personality has illuminated our lives from the moment our paths crossed.
There are people in our lives whose impact is so immediate and so permanent, it’s almost impossible to remember a time when they weren’t part of us. It was Anthony. If you worked at The Post, you were family. If not? It was just a detail. You were also family.
Anthony’s struggle with COVID-19 in the past three weeks has touched all of us in almost too deep a way to be properly transmitted. He fought with every ounce of his being, often beyond what seemed possible, but on Sunday afternoon, one of the biggest hearts we ever knew was calm.
He was 48 years old. He leaves behind a wife, Romina, her children, John and Mia, and an army of friends who would likely fill Citi Field, Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden. And would probably also require standing space.
“He had a heart as big as anyone I have ever met,” said longtime friend Channel 4 sports anchor Bruce Beck. “He was the salt of the earth. He had a charm and a grace in him that you don’t find in many people. He would ask a Roger Clemens or a Pedro Martinez to pose for a photo and they wouldn’t have done this for anyone else. But they did it for Anthony. “
Her kindness knew no bounds. A few years ago, Jack Curry of YES Network and his wife brought a friend and daughter, both from St. Kitts Island, to attend their first American baseball game at the Yankee Stadium. Anthony was working that night and was rushing towards the man to position himself on the field when he stopped instantly.
“I have to take a picture of you,” he said.
Curry protested, knowing that Anthony had to work, but that was a sterile argument. He unpacked about 50 pounds of equipment and started shooting: a dozen shots, a hundred, maybe more.
“He wouldn’t stop until he had the perfect picture,” recalls Curry. “And it was perfect. “
We who have had the privilege of working alongside him, understand that his talent was only matched by a gregarious personality who, in one way or another, was both modest and greater than nature. Once, after a team of us covered the Mets NL East 2015 clinch, we headed to Montgomery Inn, a Cincinnati staple, for a bunch of ribs reaching the ceiling.
Anthony had as good a day that day as any Met, because he always has, because when he and his colleague and dear friend Charles Wenzelberg were on top of their games, they could do a newspaper while jumping and grabbing your backhands. As the ribs started to disappear, his smile widened.
“Who has more fun than we do?” ” He asked. “Who is luckier than us?” “
Around Anthony, fun was always part of the deal. So many of us keep our heads down when we cross crowded stadiums and arenas; Anthony’s head was still on a pivot, eager to connect with the fans. He took thousands of photos of complete strangers over the years, took addresses, sent them prints and emails.
And these photos were taken and presented with as much care and as much style as those he took of Derek Jeter, Eli Manning or Pete Alonso.
“It was a must,” said Stephen Lynch, editor of the Post. “Do you know how many athletes spoke to them when they learned he was sick? Players from each team, sending thoughts, hoping he would be fine. They all knew him like we did – sweet, kind, professional, funny. “
“And God,” said Beck, “did he love his family. “
Anthony’s whole family – the one at home, the one at the Post, the one who spread across New York – loved him back. We were all dazed by the numbers, the sad stories, the scary projections. There have been 6,898 deaths in New York City until Sunday. It was a petrifying number, but only a number all the same.
Now, many of us have a face and a name, all belonging to a heart whose joy will carry us forever. We lose it too soon. But damn it, being around him was one of the real gems of life.
Who was luckier than us?