Against the Grain: Baseball & Softball on Film


October is a big month for baseball fans, players, and supporters alike. With the Major League Baseball (MLB) Postseason kicking off strong and the quest for the World Series crown in full swing, everyone who feels passionately for this sport and the culture around it, are either glued to their screens for the broadcasted games or have secured tickets to support their favorite teams at the stadiums.

Credits: tracyvmoore, tristianos, chicago-greg, chihirosugita & jimmyhido

The Postseason and World Series Championship marks a consistent time of the year where the sport is celebrated on a global scale. Since the MLB is one of the more universally recognized professional baseball leagues in the United States, games are televised and available for viewing worldwide.

Despite the league being based in the US, a good number of key international professional baseball players are recruited to come and play for their respective MLB teams. Through this, we see millions of people from all over the world — from friends, to family, colleagues, partners, etc. — all gather to tune in and root for their teams in pursuit of the Commissioner’s Trophy. With games that consist of packed innings filled with surprising plays, powerful pitches, and the greatest hits, this sporting event demands one’s full attention and energy.

Credits: kingnate, loquat22, pheebs & earlybird

Truthfully, to be able to witness even just a fraction of the athletes’ baseball prowess is thrilling. My earliest memories of the sport involved hearing bits about the New York Yankees over the MLB regular season broadcasts my dad and older brothers would watch. From then on out, I had been fully thrust into the world of baseball and softball; first starting out as a spectator and then evolving into a softball player, and back again.

Softball is considered to be baseball’s sibling; even arguably its identical twin. It’s a sport that has as much universal impact on the youth and the generations before it as does baseball. Japan, US, Taiwan, Korea, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, and the Philippines are only a few of the many countries that have a thriving baseball and softball community, one whose platforms are championed internationally. As a Filipino who grew up immersed in the scene as both an athlete and a sports fan, I attest to this thriving community being true.

Credits: beahemian, mafiosa, ouroborosx & ianaggie

Tracing its roots, baseball is believed to be America’s Pastime. A sport that boomed in the mid-1800s became synonymous with American life and grew into something beloved and largely celebrated in the US. Soon after, softball followed down this path. Not only did the sport grow in numbers and popularity within the US, but the concept and practice as a whole spread all around — most notably in Asia — establishing world-class athletic programs that continue to grow yearly.

A little over a decade ago, Lomography Pioneer Willie Schuman (aka @wil6ka) covered an aspect of professional baseball in Korea through the perspective of a spectator, sharing his notes and observations. He emphasized the mastery of the sport mounted with each successive spectator who reserved time off their schedule to come to the ballpark and watch some baseball.

Credits: silentcar, gunship, alburnkat & hijiki

“For the love of the game” and “How can you not be romantic about baseball?” are remarks that usually come up when speaking of the sport on a more emotional level. The latter uttered by Billie Beane (as portrayed by Brad Pitt in the 2011 film Moneyball), general manager of the Oakland A’s in 2002. It’s a testament to the timeless essence of the sport, stringed along with its ability to captivate hearts, hopes, and dreams. The film photos spread throughout this article capture the soul of the sport, with rounded corners and a rhythmic history to it.

Credits: fong2k, gepo1303 & bradsimpson719

After all, baseball is a game of inches. Crucial moments and broken records happen within seconds. A relay throw made a second too late and thrown an inch too far means the opponent scores a run. A swing path tilted an inch too short could mean a home run or a pop fly to end the game. Every inch made or pulled back has the potential to distinguish a phenom from a legend, a championship team from a podium placer. Each inch adds another layer of excitement, crafts a cinderella story, and completes the storybook ending.

Now halfway through October and feeling the rush from the MLB Postseason picking up, it was interesting to reflect on what this sport has meant to me through the years and everything it has brought into my life; reviving a kind of spirited energy.

Credits: silentcar, rawknee & bradsimpson719

Exploring the photographs taken in 35 mm and 120 film from the lens of Lomography community members worldwide, it was heartwarming to see a more nuanced perspective and representation of the sport. Some of the film photos included in this article have been shot using a mix of Lomography Redscale XR 35 mm ISO 50–200 paired with the Lomo LC-Wide 35 mm Film Camera, the discontinued Lomography Slide X-Pro matched with the ever-present Spinner 360°, the all-around Lomography Color Negative 35 mm ISO 100 and the wide-eyed Fisheye No. 2 35 mm Camera, New Petzval 85 Art Lens Black Brass Canon EF, and so many other Lomo tools that help in creating time capsules of memories made within the diamond.

Credits: rickney, fong2k, garden_song, jimmyhido & diplomat30

Thank you to all the Lomographers who shared their baseball and softball photos with the community! Feel free to comment down below what you love about the sport and please continue sharing your sports photographs taken on film with us!

written by garden_song on 2023-10-17 #culture #sport #gallery #baseball #community #softball

Mentioned Product

Lomography Fisheye No. 2

Lomography Fisheye No. 2

See the world through 170⁰ of fabulous Fisheye distortion. Our Fisheye cameras use regular 35mm film. A built-in flash can be switched on so you could have more coverage in underwater depths or even at late night parties.

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