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Mark Steinmetz’s The Players
Photography Mark Steinmetz

Tensions run high in these little league snaps

Photographer Mark Steinmetz shot the heartache and pre-teen heroes of America’s junior baseball scene in the 80s

Back in the mid-80s, photographer Mark Steinmetz began photographing wide-eyed adolescent and pre-teen baseball players in America. The black and white images capture a time before satellite TV and game consoles where, instead, kids focused their attention on getting outside and amongst each other. “For a long time I had been photographing kids in their neighbourhoods and in public places,” Steinmetz explains. “One day I heard the sound of a baseball being struck by a bat and I turned to see what was going on and instantly I knew I would take this up as a project, and that there would be ample opportunities for comedy and tragedy. Each game ended with winners and losers, and typically I zeroed in on the losers and their disappointment. You could feel the courage that was sometimes required to step up to the plate.” Scraped knees, dirty hands and the world at their feet, Steinmetz gives a glimpse into life as a kid in the 80s and 90s with images of boys and girls lazing with summer boredom on the lawns, in the dugouts and on the sidelines as they wait for ‘batter up’.

The Players is available from Nazraeli Press now