In the Dominican Republic baseball is not just a sport – it’s a way of life, a religion, and a ticket out of poverty. In fact, baseball has gained such a strong force there that Seattle-based photographer Michael Hanson traveled to the small Caribbean country to shoot an article which recently ran in The New York Times.
The Republic of Baseball is the story of how one game has become big business in a poor country where signing a major league contract can transform a family’s life trajectory. No other country in the world, besides the United States, produces as many MLB players as the Dominican Republic. Hanson’s photo essay provides an innocent, yet jarring, look at this pervading culture.
“I started this project in 2011 as a personal series on a topic I was interested in. I returned in 2012 and 2016. I never cared much about an outlet instead just focusing on making good images and ones that I felt proud of.
To see a spread in the NYTimes, especially one that large, is a big honor. The team at the Times was great and super patient and diligent in getting all the details in line. I can’t imagine a better outlet.
I love this topic. People might dismiss it as just a series about a sport but it’s more than that. A huge percentage of young men in the Dominican Republic drop out of school and dedicate their adolescence to the goal of signing a professional contract. The ramifications of this are far-reaching in my opinion. And, not just negatively. These kids have been the most honest, respectful and disciplined kids I’ve ever worked with.”
To see much more of Hanson’s outdoor, travel and active lifestyle photography check out his Aurora lightbox.
About Michael Hanson
Michael Hanson’s two passions, baseball and photography, overlapped for a single season while playing for the Atlanta Braves. As his batting average dropped, his interest in photography increased, and he’s been shooting ever since. He completed his first book, a project documenting urban farming in America, titled Breaking Through Concrete in 2010 and recently finished his first documentary film, Who Owns Water, about a river in his native South. Michael’s awards include PDN30, America’s Top Travel Photographers, and Images of the Year for Portraiture, along with others from National Geographic, PDN, Banff, Rangefinder, FYI Folio and the American Advertising Federation.
For even more info, read our Q & A with Michael.