Baseball may very well be considered an American sport by definition, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a country more devoted to America’s Pastime than the Dominican Republic. Whereas in the U.S. it can be argued that baseball faces stiff competition from football and basketball for the title of most popular sport, no such contest exists on these shores. The Caribbean nation breathes béisbol or pelota, as the sport is locally known. It comes as no surprise that a slew of the sport’s all-time greats like Pedro Martínez, Vladimir Guerrero, Julio Franco, Juan Marichal, Albert Pujols, Robinson Canó and David Ortiz hail from the Dominican Republic; all the more reason to add baseball to your itinerary while visiting this beautiful Caribbean nation.
The country’s love affair with baseball began when Cuban immigrants brought the sport to the Dominican Republic in the 1890s. It was very well received and its popularity grew quickly. Around the 1920s, Dominican players were already playing against other Caribbean nations and teams from the United States.
Nowadays, kids grow up playing in the streets and local parks, dreaming of one day making it into the major leagues. It’s not such a far-fetched dream; all 30 Major League Baseball teams sponsor academies in the Dominican Republic, where local kids can prepare to become professional players while taking academic courses in English. As such, the Dominican Republic is by far the largest exporter of baseball players to the United States, as every Major League Baseball team boasts at least one Dominican player within its ranks. Such an endless conveyor belt of talent has paved the way for the country to become the reigning world baseball champ, having won the most recent edition of the World Baseball Classic tournament in 2013.
History and stats are all fine and dandy, but the true way to discover the unbridled passion for baseball in the Dominican Republic is by seeing its nascent stars in action. The Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana is the country’s top professional league, featuring up-and-coming local sluggers as well as Major League Baseball veterans. The season begins in mid-October and ends in January. The league’s champion gets to represent the country in the annual Caribbean Series, where they face off against teams from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Cuba.
Santo Domingo boasts two professional teams: Tigres del Licey and Leones del Escogido. Both teams play their home games in Estadio Quisqueya. To the north, Águilas Cibaeñas ply their trade in Santiago de los Caballeros, the country’s second largest city and home to Estadio Cibao, the largest stadium in the Dominican Republic. Gigantes del Cibao play in nearby San Francisco de Macorís, just east of Santiago. The southeastern portion of the island features the remaining two teams in the league: Estrellas Orientales in San Pedro de Macorís, a city that also holds the distinction of producing more professional baseball players than any other city in the world, and Toros del Este in La Romana, located less than an hour away from the resort town of Punta Cana.
During your visit to the Dominican Republic, go beyond the beach to one of the country’s stadium and enjoy the show. Who knows? You may very well witness the next baseball superstar in the making.
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365 George Washington Avenue, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, I02-05, (1)(809) 221 6666
Overlooking the Caribbean and near the Colonial Zone, our hotel boasts modern rooms, upscale dining, a casino, and ample event space.