As soon as the players from the A’s 2002 draft class entered the system to begin their professional baseball careers, former MTV journalist Tabitha Soren began photographing them and documenting their journeys. Of course, this was the draft class that was documented in the well-known tome “Moneyball.”
Many A’s fans will recall that the first two picks from that draft, Nick Swisher and Joe Blanton, made it to the big leagues within the next two years. But it’s those players who never made it to the majors – like Ben Fritz and Steve Stanley – and those who got just the briefest cups of coffee – like Jeremy Brown and Mark Kiger – who form the real backbone of Soren’s new book, “Fantasy Life: Baseball and the American Dream.”
Filled with Soren’s photos of players from the 2002 class both during and after their baseball careers, the book also includes childhood photos as well as compelling essays by the players themselves reflecting on their own diverse journeys. Some of those journeys led to World Series championships and multi-million-dollar contracts, and some of those journeys led to work in the coal mines and homelessness.
What all the players profiled in “Fantasy Life” have in common is the fact that they were all chasing a childhood dream – a few of them caught it, but most of them were forced to have to surrender it. Referring to these ballplayers in a recent book talk, Soren said, “You’re not a child even though you’re playing a child’s game.” And this book makes clear the journey from wide-eyed children to clear-eyed men that each of these dreamers had to make.
Soren has also spent time photographing a much more recent crop of A’s prospects, primarily those playing with the Stockton Ports. Some of those photos, as well as some photos of the players from the 2002 draft class who are featured in the book, are included below. “Fantasy Life: Baseball and the American Dream” will be released by Aperture on April 1 and is available to order online now. All photos below by Tabitha Soren…
Before & After: Nick Swisher (above) and Mark Kiger (below)
A’s prospect Matt Olson (above) / Olson with fellow prospect and frequent roommate Chad Pinder (below)