When the Royals rose in the ninth inning and beat the Mets, even the most tepid sports fan had World Series fever last year.
The win elevated the mood in Kansas City, as witnessed by the thousands of joyous fans who poured into the streets to celebrate and cheer their favorite players at a parade. Inspired by the times, I decided to explore Kansas City’s baseball scene from top to bottom, attempting to capture the sport from as many angles — literally and figuratively — as possible.
True fans have stuck with the Royals through ups and downs, and young players have always found idols among the team’s members. But after winning the World Series, there was something more to the energy surrounding baseball in Kansas City. Some had seen the team’s last win in 1985 — but for many, it was a moment they’d waited a lifetime for.
And with so much talent on the professional team, many young hopefuls began the dream of not only playing in the majors, but of playing for their beloved home team at Kauffman Stadium.
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I had no such of playing in the big leagues. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school, when I put down the bat and picked up a camera, that baseball became fun. It’s joy that I wanted to capture in my photos.
Because America’s Pastime is supposed to be fun. Whether it’s an adult playing for a shot at the big leagues, a teen playing to put himself through college, or a group of adolescent boys and girls playing just because their parents signed them up, what most fans from the stands see is young people having a good time.
That’s what I hoped to capture in my photos. It’s what drew me back to the diamonds to start this project in June, and it’s what will keep drawing me back to America’s Pastime, wherever I go.
James Wooldridge of Prairie Village is a freelance photographer for the Kansas City Star. He took an interest in photographing baseball his junior and senior year of high school at Shawnee Mission East. James is now a sophomore photojournalism student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.