DR Elite Baseball Camp

Baseball in the Dominican Republic

Baseball is the most popular sport in the Dominican Republic today. After the United States, the Dominican Republic has the second-highest number of baseball players in Major League Baseball (MLB). It is home to 28 of 30 MLB academies and hundreds of player development academies. The sport was first seen in Latin America in Cuba, baseball began to flourish in the Dominican Republic when the United States Marine Corps occupied the island from 1916-1924. In the early 1900s, there were two baseball clubs named Nuevo Club and Ozama that were head and shoulders above the competition. However, a group called Licey emerged and it would become one of the finest sporting institutions in the Dominican Republic. With the arrival of Licey in 1907 thousands of people showed up for their games with the other self-organized teams in the country. They became great entertainment for citizens from all economic backgrounds. In 1912, Nuevo Club won the first baseball championship in Santo Domingo. Between the years of 1907-1920, baseball was played in the Dominican Republic for fun and the players played for “the love of the game.” However, in 1921 the teams began to collect money from spectators and the championship game that year brought in over $7,000 and commercial pressures led to the sport becoming a semi-profession 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.

The country also participated in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, the inaugural tournament, in which they finished semi–finalists along with Korea. In the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the Dominican Republic became the first team to win the event undefeated.  

Although thousands of players from the island have played in the MLB, only 3 have been inducted into The National Baseball Hall of Fame. Those players are Juan MarichalVladimir Guerrero and Pedro Martinez.

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