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....