The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic

The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic

The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic

The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic

Synopsis

In a new afterword Rob Ruck looks at the current state of baseball in the country that has produced Sammy Sosa and many other major league stars.

Excerpt

I first journeyed south in the summer of 1972 with a traveling companion, Paul Boas, who guided me through this incredibly diverse region with an infectious enthusiasm for its physical splendor and peoples. Since then, I’ve returned as often as I could. in 1980, while writing about black Pittsburgh sport, I traveled to Cuba and the Dominican Republic to investigate Latin ball’s connection to the Negro Leagues. I went back to the Dominican Republic in 1984 and have since spent about six months there and elsewhere in the Caribbean basin.

Branch B. Rickey opened the gates to winter baseball for me in 1984, and Winston Llenas and Tony Peña showed me what was inside. Critical support came in the form of a Research Grant from the Latin American and Caribbean Division of the Social Science Research Council and a Summer Stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Richard Smethurst, Reid Andrews, James Barrett, Laird Bergad, Richard Blackett, Preston Covey, John Modell, David Montgomery, Mitchell Seligson, and Jules Tygiel provided indispensable guidance in obtaining these grants. the Center for Latin American Studies and the Pittsburgh Social History Center offered a scholarly haven.

Jenny and Sean Barrett, David Bear, Bruce Calder, Doron Levin, Peter Levine, Martin Murphy, Michael O’Neal, and Jon Scher critiqued the manuscript or helped in the research. Charles Schwartz and John Krich came along for part of the ride while Jay Reifer and Ken Boas lent me their thoughts on the trails of Frick Park. Faith Hamlin, my agent, steered the project along the way and Miguel Sague translated many of the Spanish-language interviews, uncovering meaning I would have otherwise lost. Mark Cohen dissected the manuscript from his worksite on the coast of Malaysia and shared his thoughts with me later when we toured the peninsula to begin the decade.

To say that I was treated graciously and accorded undeserved respect while in the Dominican Republic would be understating it. I am especially thankful to the Rev. Joseph Ainslie, Manuel Joaquín Báez Vargas, Roberto Caines, Cuqui Cordova, Leonel Fernández, Tito Her-

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