Baseball Influence on the Dominican’s Republic Culture
Baseball has a long history of being a globally recognized national Dominican sport for a number of solid reasons. Moreover, baseball is considered a true passion rather than an average physical exercising for a great number of Dominicans, and, therefore, nowadays, it significantly shapes the Dominican culture. This tremendous success of baseball in the Dominican Republic is due to the mutual reinforcement of two main sectors of the country – the government and the society. On the one hand, Dominican’s government provides profound support for baseball, thereby encouraging the citizens to play it. As a result, this approach helps to create a baseball culture in the Dominican society and amplify a desire of Dominicans to enroll in this sport to become outstanding baseball players and later promote this activity as true legends and role models for the young generation.
In fact, successful development of baseball sport industry in the Dominican Republic would not be possible without strong government support. To illustrate, Dominican authority has been creating favorable economic environment that gives a powerful impetus for developing elaborate baseball infrastructures in the country. Although the state itself directs considerable funds to build baseball sport facilities, namely baseball fields, and keep them in good condition, Major League Baseball (MLB) also finds it economically attractive to invest in the rise of Dominican baseball culture and stimulate Dominicans to practice this sport professionally.
Since 1980s, MLB has been investing many resources to develop the Dominican Republic’s baseball infrastructure and keep it at a high level. Notably, the fact that all 30 Major League Baseball clubs have their training academies in the country reveals a strong magnetism of the Dominican Republic for MLB. By contrast, in Venezuela, which gives the second largest number of players for the MLB, there are only five professional training schools in the whole country (Constant Ventura). These baseball teams usually spend a considerable amount of money to modernize old baseball facilities in the Dominican Republic or to build new ones (Jessop). Obviously, such substantial investment of resources to cultivate baseball culture became attainable due to the fertile economic environment that the country’s government has created to promote its national sport.
However, it is essential to mention that the state authorities themselves provide generous financial support for establishments, events, and people connected with baseball playing in the Dominican Republic. It is a usual thing to see a diversity of baseball training programs in this country, both public and private, that receive funds from the state. For example, the famous Centro Olimpico Juan Pablo Duarte, which is situated in the country’s capital, Santo Domingo, is under the management of the state and offers free training for all enrolled individuals. Accordingly, children and youth have an opportunity to be involved in the sport they like and can use this chance to reach successful results in baseball and become well-recognized baseball players.
Additionally, the government of the Dominican Republic puts enormous efforts and resources to strengthen the baseball culture in the country by publicly praising national baseball legends, i.e. giving their names to buildings or creating monuments in their honor. For instance, the statue of Juan Marichal, the current president of the Baseball Federation of the Dominican Republic and a member of the Major League of Baseball hall of fame, stands at the main entrance of the Centro Olimpico. Also, all baseball tournaments in Dominican Republic, such as Dominican Professional Baseball League, are freely broadcasted by the country’s public TV networks.
The next reason why baseball has become a truly national sport as well as passion for many residents of the Dominican Republic is easy accessibility of sport facilities all over the country. It is difficult to find a place in the Dominican Republic where one would not find a baseball field or stadium as even the poorest towns have their places equipped to practice the national sport (“Dominican Republic Baseball”). Presence of this wide network of baseball infrastructure that almost embraces the island and reaches the most remote places, which gives a clear explanation of this sport’s success in the Dominican Republic.
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Yet, it is also necessary to admit that Dominicans’ choice to play baseball rather than any other game can be a result of the lack of facilities for other sports. As a rule, such sports as swimming, athletics, and soccer do not receive proper government funding and, hence, are usually managed by the private sector. This factor also impels Dominicans to choose baseball as a key activity for their children as in general, playing baseball demands less efforts and resources of those enrolled in it. Thus, it is more affordable and easier for the citizens to play baseball in the Dominican Republic comparing with other sports, which is due to the developed baseball infrastructure and its wide accessibility for everyone.
If moving further in explaining the reasons for successful baseball culture in the Dominican Republic, it is necessary to analyze more deeply why the society perceives baseball as a national sport. Referring to the abovementioned facts, the Dominican society has been enjoying the advanced baseball facilities widely available all over the country, which is the result of government’s and businesses’ vast investments into this economy sector. However, baseball is the remarkably successful national sport in the Dominican society not only because of the improvements in the sport infrastructure on the island and its easy accessibility, but it is also due to enthusiastic and passionate reception of baseball by the citizens themselves. In economic terms, the Dominican’s successful ‘baseball case’ shows that demand (citizens’ desire to play baseball) and supply (government making investments into this sector while also creating conditions for others to invest) are mutually intertwined and reinforced in this country.
In the Dominican Republic, people usually introduce their children to baseball at a very early age. In other words, young people are ‘born for sport’ and start developing their skills in this national game widely played everywhere in the country since early childhood. As a rule, when considering which activity to choose for their children, parents in the Dominican Republic prefer baseball and introduce their offspring to this sport at the age of three or four. There are organized baseball training programs for little boys of this age which are affordable for parents as they are free of charge or require minor monetary contribution.
Moreover, people firmly nurture the strong baseball culture in the Dominican Republic by popularizing the practices related to this sport, such as a tradition to give baseball gifts to children. It is very widespread in the country to present baseballs, bats, or accessories with Dominican baseball clubs’ logos to a child on birthdays or some other holidays. Thus, children develop a feeling of a truly great importance of this national sport that is extremely attractive, desirable, and quite promising for them.
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Generally speaking, the broad baseball culture at the national level that children experience since early childhood combined with high-quality sport facilities available all over the country very often ‘give birth’ to the legendary baseball players, which become famous and recognized outside of the island. As Rob Rock, an author of several publications on baseball history, said, “The Dominican Republic is the largest source of talent to the big leagues outside the United States, it does not compare with any other nation, represents the largest concentration of talent in baseball history” (Constant Ventura).
Frequently, successful baseball players become true role models for Dominicans who respect and admire their fellow countrymen. The reason for this recognition lies not only in their successful baseball results. Various charity foundations, new training schools, or at least rebuilt baseball fields for children is the most common range of contributions that baseball stars make to promote and strengthen baseball culture in their native country. For example, famous Robinson Cano established the RC22 Dream School in San Pedro de Macoris, which offers free Montessori style teaching for children. The society perceives such actions in an extremely positive way; moreover, they usually obtain much appreciation and admiration both from adults and their children who want to follow the footsteps of their role models and reach outstanding results in baseball.
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In conclusion, baseball has become a genuine national tradition in the Dominican Republic. One can elucidate the emergence of this phenomenon with two main intertwined reasons. The first cause of the vast popularity of baseball in the Dominican Republic is the extensive government’s support, which directs many resources and efforts to promote baseball culture as well as creates comfortable economic conditions for other donors to invest in the Dominican sport industry. Additionally, the second cause lies in a growing demand of the Dominican’s society for a baseball culture. Many parents tend to instill zeal for this game into their children at an early age. As a result, they develop love for it and admiration of their true role models – baseball legends.