Baseball in the Dominican Republic
Rafael Trujillo became president of the Dominican Republic in 1930 and he helped baseball soar in popularity as the sport gained a political connection. By the end of the 1930s, many of the finest Negro league players from the United States and Cuban players played baseball in the summer in the Dominican Republic as they were paid a fortune in order to come play. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947 and soon after teams from the MLB began sending scouts to watch Dominican Republic players play.
Between 1955 and 1980 there were 49 players from the Dominican Republic who played in the MLB. However, in the 1980s hundreds of players started coming to the United States as there became “working relationships between North American and Dominican teams.” The first great pitcher from the Dominican Republic who starred in the United States was Juan Marichal who is nicknamed the “Dominican Dandy”. He began his playing career in the MLB in 1960 after he was signed from the Dominican Republic by the San Francisco Giants.
The Dominican Republic has its own professional baseball league, the Dominican Winter Baseball League, which runs its season from October to January. It comprises six teams: Águilas Cibaeñas (Cibao Eagles), Estrellas Orientales (Eastern Stars), Gigantes del Cibao (Cibao Giants), Leones del Escogido (Chosen Lions), Tigres del Licey (Licey Tigers), and Toros del Este (Eastern Bulls). The league started in 1956 when the Dominican League switched from playing in the summers to playing in the winters. Many MLB and minor league players play in the Dominican League during their own off-season.