Why Dominicans Are So Passionate About Baseball
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.
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.
They established year-round baseball camps, or academies, to train the best players between the ages of 15 and 17.
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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