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Jessica Ogilvie

Sports

Tabitha Soren Captures The Fantasy Life Of American Baseball

The former MTV News VJ spent 15 years documenting the lives of draft picks for the Oakland A’s, tracking their dreams, successes, and—more often—failures

Baseball is nothing if not all-American: families coming together, stadium lights, and dreams coming true. What the game doesn’t often represent, at least for fans, is pain, frustration, and failure. That’s what photographer Tabitha Soren wound up capturing over 15 years, though, as she followed draft picks for the Oakland A’s. In 2002, Soren (yes, of MTV News fame) began photographing the 23 young men who became the subject of her new book, Fantasy Life. (Soren’s husband, the author Michael Lewis, wrote the book Moneyball about the team.) Once she realized the unprecedented access she’d been granted—“I was in the showers, the dugouts, in their homes,” she says—she knew she had something unique on her hands.

What emerged over the course of that decade and a half were photographs, not just of the players, but of fans, ballparks, the lonesome road, and the evocative American sky, all of it conjuring the sweeping feelings of hope and endless possibility that marked the young men’s lives. And thanks to the length of time she spent on the project, Soren captured something even more profound; for some players, she documented the slow, painful process of their hopes being dashed.

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