Children of the Game: Little League Baseball 1986-1988
Every spring in America thousands of young boys and girls between the approximate ages of 5 and 14 gather in a local public park in their town to try out for a local little league baseball team. The event has become an important aspect of American social life for the players and their families, who watch intently as their son or daughter walks on to the field to play the game. It’s a facet of growing up for children that reveals to us a community activity where families gather to promote the moral and social values that this sport creates for their children.
I became interested in photographing these teams when I realized that one of my sons was taking an interest in the sport of baseball. For me, it was a pleasure to see that he too, was following a tradition that even I once had become a part of reflecting back in my own childhood. I understood his desire to be a part of the camaraderie that would be apparent throughout each season of baseball. I remembered that feeling when I would look forward to each game with much enthusiasm. Now, I was looking forward to each game with a similar passion to watch him play. And, there was a desire to record what I could observe as the warm-up activities took place around the periphery of each game. It was a revisitation to my own past as a young player in that same activity years ago.
Every movement, every moment, was spent absorbing and recording the interaction between the players. Some confronted me head on and displayed their seriousness as baseball players.
The more I photographed, the more apparent it became that I felt some indifference towards the idea of photographing the highlights of the actual event or “action” of the game. More clearly, the periphery outside the fence was what I found to be more interesting. Baseball requires infinite patience as I remembered and re-discovered, because not much can happen for very long periods of time while the innings pass by. As I searched to reveal the essence of what I found, I embraced the point of view like a patient sentinel standing, waiting, watching and anticipating what might occur next. What I became attentive to was the family interaction, the ceremony, the players, the spectators, the bowing heads of the losing team that expressed their disappointment, the equipment and the competitive spirit and supportive moments displayed by these young athletes.
Although the event is both public and visible, I want the viewer to share in a world composed of the familiar, that sense of the camaraderie and energy in this commonplace event and the children who contribute their time to make the event special and personal.
In the end, I can look at these twenty-one out of the final forty images and see what my instinct and intuition knew all along, at one glance.
This body of work consists of 50 Chromogenic color prints.