brought to the country by Cubans fleeing their country after
its 10-year war from 1868 to 1878, béisbol has grown
to become a national obsession in the Dominican Republic.
Played by poor boys on the streets with broom handles and
bottle caps and merengue music blaring in the background,
baseball is often seen as the only way out of a poverty-stricken
environment. That may be why a country smaller than the size
of Vermont with a population of less than 9 million contributes
approximately 10% of major league players and 25% of minor
leaguers in the United States.
The Dominican Republic Winter League has 6 teams
that play a 50 game schedule from October through December,
culminating in a playoffs with the winner moving on to the
Caribbean Series against the winners in other Latin countries.
The Dominican Republic has won the Caribbean Series a record
16 times, including the 2007 Series held in Puerto Rico. In
the initial World Baseball Classic in 2006, the Dominican
Republic ended the tourney with a disappointing 3-1 loss to
Cuba in the semi-finals. Almost every Major League Baseball
team sponsors a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic
where young prospects eat, sleep, and play baseball in its
Summer League. New signees, as young as 16 years old, get
at most two or three years to show they warrant a promotion
to the U.S. minor leagues before getting cut loose.
More than 400 Dominican born players have made
it to the Majors in the United States, beginning with Ozzie
Virgil, a shortstop who debuted with the New York Giants in
1956. Other all-time greats include Hall of Fame pitcher Juan
Marichal, 1987 American League MVP George Bell, Pedro Guerrero,
Sammy Sosa, and the Alou brothers Felipe, Jesus, and Matty.
Currently, Dominicans dominate the upper-ranks of MLB with
superstars Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Adrian Beltre, Alfonso
Soriano, Miguel Tejada, Francisco Liriano, and Albert Pujols.
Yankee star Alex Rodriguez’s parents both came from
the Dominican Republic, though he was born in New York City.
of Dominican Republic Winter League
Site of D.R. Summer League
the excitement of baseball in the Dominican Republic’s
from the D.R.’s Tourist site
Available for Purchase
The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic,
Baseball’s Finest Fielders, Bilingual Edition, Mark Stewart
Players Born in the Dominican Republic