Beisbol, Dominican Style
Dominican Republic: Baseball is King
The setting couldn't be more idyllic, a manicured baseball field bordered by acres of swaying sugar cane leaves. However, the 15-year old boy with a ragged blue T-shirt stepping up to bat is looking far beyond the cane field. He pauses to make the sign of the cross and issue a silent prayer before taking his stance.
He knows two major league scouts are in the stands today, visiting his
poor rural town to see who has the talent to join their
training camp just outside Santo Domingo.
The pressure and the opportunity
to make it to the majors are something almost every Dominican boy grows
Dominican youngsters view baseball as anything but fun and game. As players, they undergo a continuous, intensive audition to see who's good enough to progress to the minors.
Usually when a Dominican signs with one of the farm teams he receives only a few thousand dollars. That's chicken scraps compared to the millions some first-round American players often demand and sometimes get. Yet it also means ball clubs can sign up large numbers of Dominicans without a lot of financial risk.
One of those who bucked the odds and made it is San Pedro's Alfonso Soriano.
His first job in the majors was second baseman for the New York Yankees. He now plays second base for the Texas Rangers.
?When Dominican kids come
to me, I tell them listen to your Mama, go to school
and work hard and you just might make it.?
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