Why Dominicans Are So Passionate About Baseball

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The game has a long history

Legend says that baseball, or “beisbol,” arrived in 1916 with the U.S. Marines who occupied the country for eight years.

Not true. Instead of introducing the game, the Marines were often challenged by local teams who sometimes won.

Baseball had arrived decades earlier through Cuba, where American sailors introduced it in 1866. When increasing turmoil in Cuba caused many to flee to the DR, they brought baseball with them. Dominicans took to the game just as eagerly.


Baseball was ideally suited for the island's sugar economy since cutting cane kept workers busy only six months of the year. Sugar mill owners encouraged workers to form teams and play baseball in the off season to keep them occupied.

Since sons would one day join their father's mill team, baseball became an essential part of almost every boy's upbringing.

The first professional baseball team, the Tigers del Lacey, appeared in Santo Domingo in 1907. Yet the greatest players have consistently come from one old mill town, San Pedro de Macoris on the southwest coast, which formed its own team, the Eastern Stars, in 1911.


Baseball became the quick ticket to fortune and fame in the late 1970s when major league teams from the States turned the DR into a major recruiting ground.

They established year-round baseball camps, or academies, to train the best players between the ages of 15 and 17.


Today, after island-wide tryouts select the most talented, teams like the Dodgers, Yankees and Phillies feed, house, and coach the youngsters at their Dominican training camps.

They also pay them about $800 a month, or two-thirds of what the average Dominican earns annually. It's an incredible amount of money for a teenager, which is why boys are so hungry to play the sport.

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