Tabitha Soren – Fantasy Life
Baseball and the American Dream
In 2002, Tabitha Soren first began photographing a group of minor league draft picks for the Oakland A’s—young men coming into the major league farm system straight from high school or college. Since then, she has followed the players through their baseball lives, an alternate reality of long bus rides, on-field injuries, friendships and marriages entered and exited, constant motion, and very hard work, often for very little return. Some of the subjects, like Nick Swisher and Joe Blanton, have gone on to become well-known, respected players at the highest level of the game. Some left baseball to pursue other lines of work, such as selling insurance and coal mining. Others have struggled with poverty and even homelessness.
Fifteen years after that first shoot, Fantasy Life portrays a selection of these stories, gathering together a richly textured series of photographs taken on the field and behind the scenes at games, along with commentaries by each of the players and memorabilia from their lives—from kindergarten-age baseball cards to x-rays of player injuries. Dave Eggers contributes five linked short stories that compellingly condense the roller-coaster ride of the minor-league everyman, from youthful pursuit of stardom through the slog of endless hardscrabble games, to that moment of realization that success may not be just around the corner after all. Additionally, a number of the featured players add their own real-life experiences of trying to make it to “The Show.” Together, these elements evoke the enduring spirit of this quintessential American fantasy of making it in the major leagues.