Baseball In The Dominican Republic Essay, Research Paper
Baseball in the Dominican Republic
Baseball was first brought over to the Dominican Republic in the 1870’s, when thousands of Cubans came fleeing to the island nation in refuge from the Ten Years’ War. Along with baseball, Cubans also brought with sugar producing expertise that had made them the largest sugar producer in the Caribbean. Sugar immediately became the Dominican Republic’s key money-making export, but baseball took a little longer to come around. At the turn of the century, many British of African descent came to the Dominican Republic from St. Martin, Nevis, Tortola and other islands whose sugar industry was collapsing as the Dominican cane fields were expanding. These Cocolos brought with them cricket and more organizational social discipline, which were inhereted from their British backgrounds. Cricket was an extremely popular sport in the Republic until baseball came to be the sport of choice in the late 1930s.
Why has baseball has long become the cultural centerpiece of the Dominican Republic? There are many factors to consider in answering this question. Because of the similarities to baseball, cricket can be seen as the launchpad for the what has truly became the Dominican nat1ional past-time. The popularity of cricket gave way to baseball which exploded by the mid-twentieth century.
A major element in the baseball evolution in the Dominican Republic is the socio-economic environment. The island consisteds of mostly workers of the sugar mills, which is completely seasonal harvest. During the winter months, also known as the Dead season, the workers did not have much to do. Baseball became the recreation of choice as practically every man and boy picked up a bat and ball to enjoy the game during their off season. This is still the case today, as the under-developed society (by Western standards) does not have much choice when it comes to recreation. So they play baseball. And how sweetly it is played! Another element in the socio-economic factor is for many young men, it is the only road to success; either make it in baseball or go work in the mills. This is a drive which pushes them even harder to become exceptional baseball players.
San Pedro De Marcoris, a costal city of the Republic which is the center of sugar production, is the only region in the world that has enough local talent to form a Major League baseball team. Most of the people of this sugar mill concentration are Colocos, as with most of the great baseball players of the Dominican Republic. So what is the connection between baseball and these Dominicans of English descent? Many will consider the hereditary aspect, as Colocos seem to be bigger in size than native Dominicans. However, the culture that they advocate is the major link in this relationship. The Colocos had a very organized and disciplined culture, carrying the British colonial tradition with them. This meant a certain degree of experience in benevolent societies and collective self-help, along with a strong sense of individualism. And they brought a passion for the game of cricket, which transformed into that of baseball. This attitude was carried on to the field and the approach to the game. Althouth the distinction between English and Dominican has waned, Colocos have without a doubt been the core of Dominican baseball’s success, stamping an English mold in the national baseball culture.
This brings us to the question, what is the meaning of baseball in the Dominican Republic? The government and the sugar mills have done their part by sponsoring baseball after they realized the national and international impact which is brought with the sport. The opportunities of talented young players are incomparable to that of life at the sugar mills. Also, the baseball players who have succeeded play an intricite role for they give back to the community which has helped them become who they are, returning every winter, in result raising the fever for the game. It is a more personal relationship with the players and their communities, which has helped Dominican baseball to remain much closer to the way the game was in the United States before media and corporate ownership deepened the divide between players and fans.
A rather simple answer is that baseball is their lives. Every boy grows up with a bat and a ball, and everyone gets a chance to play. Baseball in the Dominican Republic, in comparison to the United States, is baseball, basketball, football and nintendo rolled into one culture. I have to use the term culture, because baseball in the Dominican Republic has transcended the boundaries of sport. It has become an extraordinary part of their daily lives. Earlier in the century, the first championship games in Santo Domingo were attended by a crowd exceeding twenty thousand when the population of the city was slightly over thrity thousand. Baseball has evolved into a national culture in the Dominican Republic, with the enthusiasm and the passion for the sport in the Dominican Republic to only have grown since.