My journey to the Dominican Republic was centered around baseball and supporting local communities. Along with my 2006-2007 Winthrop University baseball teammates, I was privileged to visit local schools and interact with local baseball teams in Santo Domingo, San Pedro de Macorís and La Romana.
Visiting local primary schools and orphanages, conducting baseball clinics for young kids, donating baseball equipment and playing games against the young, yet extremely talented and passionate Dominicans was unforgettable. Dominicans love their baseball.
It was an honor to play at the home facility of the San Pedro Angles' - Dominican affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - in San Pedro de Macorís, where young Angels' talent live in dormitory-style barracks right at the field. San Pedro, known as 'The Cradle for Shortstops', is a hotbed for baseball on the island and has produced 76 major leaguers, including Alfonso Soriano and Sammy Sosa.
Arguably the most authentic Dominican baseball experience was playing a game amongst the sugarcane fields. It felt like a scene from 'Field of Dreams'. We arrived at the (baseball) field, which was surrounded by sugar cane, and played ball with the local Dominicans, right in their back yard. It was a full-immersion experience.
Playing under the lights at Francisco Michelli Baseball Stadium just one night later felt like Yankee Stadium after my sugarcane baseball adventure.
With my (limited) spare time, I was fortunate enough to take a speed boat trip to Saona Island (Isla Saona), where white sand beaches and crystal clear water make for immaculate snorkelling excursions.
This trip to the Dominican Republic was all about baseball, but I made sure to take in my fair share of culture away from the diamond.