Baseball has played a significant role in the lives of the people of the Dominican Republic since the 19th century. The sport was introduced as something entirely different from what it is perceived as today. This game has evolved with time, and in spite of the changes, the people have loved it, nonetheless. Baseball did not originate in this country but was brought into it by the British colonists. Let’s take a deeper look into the sport and understand how it evolved in the country and made room for itself in its culture.
How Did It All Begin?
Baseball is not an innate sport found in the country of the Dominican Republic. It was merely introduced here in the mid-19th century by a few British Colonists. This game was initially introduced in the form of cricket to the inhabitants of the Dominican Republic. The southern masses were seen adopting it at the beginning, followed by the rest of the country.
Baseball did not take flight in its initial few decades. The long wars and the political unrest in the country are to be blamed for the delay in its popularity. Fast-forwarding to 1890, Cuban immigrants who escaped the war in their country brought with them the game of baseball. Here began the long-standing legacy of the sport of baseball in the Dominican Republic.
Two teams, namely Ozama and Nuevo Club, were established in the year 1890. Even now, baseball was not taken as a serious sport and was seen as a leisurely activity by the people of the Dominican Republic.
In 1907, when the political situation in the country calmed down another team, the Tigres del Licey was established in Santo Domingo. They rose to fame and soon became the most coveted team in the league. Their only competition was Escogido, a team that was a resulted amalgamation of the best players of three other teams in the league. This Exciting competition, however, was only seen a couple of decades later in the 1920s.
The Trujillo Period
Rafael Leónidas Trujillo served as the country’s dictator for eight years between 1930 and 1938. He was reinstated and served again for ten more years between 1942 and 1952. In his initial years, he looked over, establishing the country. He modernized services and even looked into baseball. He worked hard to promote the sport and even built baseball stadiums in the country.
Apart from building baseball stadiums in the country, he also took the initiative and made changes in the teams too. He combined two of the major teams in the league, namely Licey and Escogido in the year 1937. They were later renamed Ciudad Trujillo. They were made to play tournaments in the same year. This team emerged as the shining champions of the league. The team went on to reach the top of the leader boards of leagues in Latin America and the Negro League. A total of 9 players from the United States of America joined this club too. Later on, Trujillo’s Club also featured some of the top Cuban players.
This sudden shift in the dynamic was due to the efforts made by Dominican Republic’s dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. The team made a few records in the seasons that followed and are still a highly revered name in Dominican Republic’s baseball sector.
What Is The Present Scenario?
The teams that we witness today were established over half a century ago in 1951. The Dominican Republic Baseball teams are still the ones to be feared and respected in the sport. After the team’s first appearance in Serie del Caribe, they have won 19 out of the 37 events in total. Dominican Republic players participate in countless professional baseball leagues even to this day. All this was made possible due to the changes that occurred in the Trujillo era.
Today, there are approximately 30 Major League Baseball team academies on the island. A total of $125 million is spent on these academies every year. The teams also spend over $400 million annually signing young players during the international signing period which starts every July 2.
Sports unite people and, in this case, countries as a whole. Baseball has become an important part of the lives of the people of the Dominican Republic. The sport evolved tremendously over the years and has reached its peak form. It is a well-respected sport and appreciated by the masses. People of the country enjoy watching it, and young children aspire to be famous baseball players when they grow up.