By Eddie Smith
January 17, 2012
While the rest of the world recovered from Christmas festivities, I made my way to Sea-Tac Airport early on the morning of December 26th to begin the trip of a lifetime. I was about to embark on a ten day journey to the Dominican Republic – the best hotbed for baseball talent in the world.
It had been a little more than two years since my first trip to coach a camp in this Caribbean land and time had its way of gently erasing the memories of the way that baseball is so entrenched in the lives of every Dominican. A few minutes after landing at the Santo Domingo Airport, however, and everywhere you look is a blaring reminder of the love and passion for baseball that is the very foundation of this country.
On the side of nearly every street you see kids – most of whom finish any formal education by the time they are seven years old – playing baseball with anything they can find. Sticks serve as bats, balls range from rocks to bottle caps, and gloves are a rare luxury in these street games. On the rock laced field, there is not a moment of daylight wasted as teams shuffle from one game to the next practice. For little league practices, they even divide the field into four small fields allowing four teams to practice at the same time. The game of baseball is truly a way of life for the Dominican people.