The Dominican Republic‘s first baseball league was founded in 1890, and although it wasn’t until 1956 that the first Dominican played in Major League Baseball (Osvaldo/Ozzie Virgil Sr. with the New York Giants, for sports fans), over four hundred players in MLB have come from the country since then. The Dominican Summer League, a Rookie Academy for MLB, has often come under criticism for exploiting teenage Dominican players, but this has in no way quelled the nation’s passion for the sport – if anything it has made it stronger, since every MLB team has representation in the Dominican to keep an eye out for future stars.
The most famous Dominican baseball players are arguably David Ortiz (also known as “Big Papi”), who holds the Red Sox record for most home runs in a season (54); eight-time All Star pitcher Pedro Martinez; Manny Mota, who has the second-best batting average in LA Dodgers history and now is one of the team’s coaches; Juan Marichal, who was often feared for his crazy pitches; and Jesus, Felipe, and Matty Alou – brothers who in turn all played for the San Francisco Giants, with Felipe becoming manager for a few years up until 2006.
If you’re interested in catching a game, baseball season in the Dominican Republic lasts from October to February; after playing 60 games, the best two teams (out of six) play for the championship with each other and then represent the nation in the Caribbean Baseball Series. The two most popular teams – and the ones with the biggest rivalry – are Los Tigres and Las Aguilas.
There are currently more MLB players from the Dominican than from all other Latin American countries combined. This is why catching a local game is a must for true baseball fans!
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