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Dominican Republic

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The Dominican Republic, in Spanish República Dominicana, is a country located on the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Depending on the language used it may be abbreviated as D.R. or R.D. The capital and largest city is Santo Domingo.

The D.R. has had a huge impact on major league baseball, with hundreds of major leaguers having been born there. A few played in the Negro Leagues, the first being Pedro San in 1926, but the first to appear in the National League or American League did so after 1950: Ozzie Virgil was the first of that category in 1956, although he grew up in New York, NY; Felipe Alou, who was second in 1958, had grown up on the island.

The country is home to the Dominican League, the most powerful winter league in baseball. The Dominican League champion has often won the Caribbean Series.

The Dominican Summer League is a rookie league with affiliates from every Major League Baseball team. The league is an extension of the baseball academies set up to nurture young baseball talent in the country, as there is no high school or college baseball. However, because all promising players are snapped up by major league teams at a young age, the Dominican Republic national team has tended to perform poorly in international baseball, in spite of all the talent which the country produces. One major exception came when the team won the 2013 World Baseball Classic. The country has also won the 1948 Amateur World Series, 1955 Pan American Games, 1962 Central American and Caribbean Games, 1982 Central American and Caribbean Games, 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games and won a bronze medal in the 2020 Olympics.

Contrary to those from Puerto Rico, Dominican players are exempt from the amateur draft and are usually signed soon after they turn 16. This has led to a lot of abuse and numerous investigations both by Major League Baseball and U.S. federal authorities. A number of executives have been fined and suspended over the years due to shenanigans related to bonuses paid to Dominican players, including Jim Bowden and John Coppolella, who were both General Managers at the time. Many major league stars, most prominently members of the Alou family and Pedro Martinez, have spoken out against the exploitative system that remains in place, and have launched initiatives to provide a path for young players that does not force them to forego a chance at an education and force them to commit to indebted servitude when they are still teenagers.

Additionally, the Hiroshima Carp have operated a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic which has produced Alfonso Soriano most notably.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Alan Klein: Dominican Baseball: New Pride, Old Prejudice, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2014. ISBN 978-1439910870
  • Thomas J. McKenna: "The Path to the Sugar Mill or the Path to Millions: MLB Baseball Academies' Effect on the Dominican Republic", Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 46, Nr. 1 (Spring 2017), pp. 95-100.
  • Bill Nowlin and Julio M. Rodríguez, eds.: Dominicans in the Major Leagues, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2022. ISBN 978-1-970159-59-2
  • Christian Red and Teri Thompson: "In Latin America, big league clubs are exploiting prospects as young as 12, whistleblower told feds", USA Today Sports, June 16, 2020. [1]
  • Robert J. Reynolds and Steven M. Day: "Offensive Strategy and Efficiency in the United States and Dominican Republic", in The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 38, Number 1 (Summer 2009), pp. 39-43.