copyright, 2014, the various photographer, writers and published by Daylight Books
It is April and the American baseball season is now in full swing, to savor the pun. I had obtained this photobook shortly after it was published in the Fall of last year, right smack in the middle of the American Football season, not exactly the time of year to be thinking about a collective photographic project that explores the subject of baseball. Thus I waited until the pre-season baseball games were well in progress to started thinking about this photobook.
The subject encompasses a sporting event with well-choreographed players, at a specific location that is also a local social event. This project revolves around the Triple-A farm team Durham Bulls (not the hit movie Bull Durham) who play at their stadium, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, located Durham, North Carolina for 72 game season in 2013.
I am usually more interested in photobook projects authored by a singular photographer but found myself intrigued by this commissioned body of work. The invited photographs are Alex Harris, Frank Hunter, Kate Joyce, Elizabeth Matheson, Leah Sobsey, Alec Soth, Hank Willis Thomas, and Hiroshi Watanabe. The book does not provide any clues as to why these photographers were selected, but does state that the photographs were not encumbered with any specific assignments.
Each photographer provides a unique perspective, but interesting that it is also difficult to identify some of the photographers by their work as to the similarity of their photographs. The tintypes of Leah Sobsey stand out as very unique as are the meditative black and white photographs by Watanabe, who grew up in a place where baseball was not the local pastime.
I can see myself in these pages, not necessarily attending a Triple-A baseball game, but thinking back to when my dad and I would walk over to watch the local high school games and on that rare occasion heading downtown with my dad, my glove in hand, to Tiger stadium, sitting high up in the bleachers wildly cheering on Norm Cash, Denny McLain, Jerry Lumpe, Willie Horton, Al Kaline and the rest of the team so long ago. At that time the Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A teams that lurked in the background, essentially the underbelly of this sport, were totally unknown to me.
The photographers capture aspects of the unfolding events that take place outside and within the stadium, the atmospheric conditions that prevail in this part of the country at night, the social milieu in the bleachers, the players on the field, and the back story of the stadium operations. This narrative does not try to explain the game of baseball and the photographs are not the norm of the newspaper sporting pages. The book results in an interesting mix and blend and is a nice read. A definite recommendation if you are a baseball fan and enjoy great photography.
The hardcover photobook has an image-wrap cover and includes a photographic index and biographies for both the photographer and writers. The book was edited by Sam Stephenson and the essays are provided by Howard Craft, Michael Croley, David Henry, Emma Miller, Adam Sobsey and Ivan Weiss and the book designer is Ursula Damm. The four-color book was printed and bound in China.