The Dominican Republic is one of the few countries where this American sport is popular and is considered the national sport. This article will present as an introduction several intrincasies of the sport in the second largest country in the Caribbean. In addition, no other sport has made more Dominicans multimillionaires, often people born in poverty.
The origin of baseball in the Dominican Republic can be traced to 1886. Although a sport invented in the United States, in was introduced in the Dominican Republic from Cuba by the Cubn brothers Igncio Alomá and Ubaldo Alomá. As the sport continue to gain popularity among Dominicans and despite the first official Dominican baseball team Tigres de Licey was founded in 1907 and the second Dominican team Estrellas Orientales in 1910, it wasn’t until the first American invasion 1916 – 1924 that it took a greater impulse.
During this American ivasion 1916 – 1924, soldiers of the US Marines would amateurish play a game of baseball during their off time. In the process, several Dominican kids were interested in seeing the “weird thing” these guys were playing. Despite baseball already existed in the Dominican Republic for at least 20 years, it wasn’t a widely popular sport yet. Eventually, the American soldiers taught the rules and how to play baseball to the young Dominicans. This gave a greater impulse that lead to the creation of what baseball is now, the most popular sport in the Dominican Republic.
Professional Baseball League of the Dominican Republic (LIDOM)
The Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana (LIDOM) was founded in 1951, but it wasn’t the official regulator of professional baseball in the Dominican Republic until 1955. From that year forward, the Dominican baseball season took place during the cooler months of the year.
The LIDOM has agreements with several Dominican television producers to transmit the games live from any of the six stadiums. These Dominican professional baseball sports are also transmitted in the United States by ESPN. The Dominican television producers are the following.
- Telemicro Digital 15 (Tigres de Licey and Leones de Escogido).
- Telesistema Coral 39 (Toros del Este and Estrellas Orientales).
- CDN Deportes (Águilas Cibaeñas).
- CERTV Canal 4RD (Gigantes del Cibao).
- DR Sports (online only to see live all Dominican professional baseball games).
Dominican Professional Baseball Teams
LIDOM has six baseball teams that compete with each other to win the National Championship. The winner represents the Dominican Republic in the Serie del Caribe which in a given year takes place in a different country around the Caribbean Sea (including Mexico) and includes one tesm from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Panama and others.
The Dominican professional baseball teams as of 2021 are the following with the year they were founded in parenthesis.
- Tigres de Licey (1907) ~ Santo Domingo
- Estrellas Orientales (1910) ~ San Pedro de Macorís
- Águilas Cibaeñas (1933) ~ Santiago de los Caballeros
- Leones de Escogido (1955) ~ Santo Domingo
- Toros del Este (1983) ~ La Romana
- Gigantes del Cibao (1996) ~ San Francisco de Macorís
The Santo Domingo Metropolitan Area has a population of more than 3 million and two teams, the East region has a population of around 1.5 million and two teams, the Cibao region has a population of more thsn 3 million with two teams and the South region has a population with more than 2 million and no team.
New professional baseball teams could be created in the future. Currently, there is a rumor that Puerto Plata could create its own professional baseball team, though the tendency to rain a lot in this town on the north coast means the stadium would have to be closed similar to the Tampa Bay stadium in Tampa, Florida, United States. Recently, the mayor of Santo Domingo Este said there is a possibility of a new professional baseball team created in his city in the next few years and it could be named “Los Trinitarios.” Some people have expressed that Punta Cana can create its own team, but nothing has been said by Dominican government authorities or anyone related to the private sector from there. It’s notable that there is no professional baseball team in the South region (comprises everything south of the Central Mountains) which makes up about a third of the Dominican Republic. Given the population density in these places, one could be created in San Cristobal or Bani.
Mascots of The Professional Baseball Teams
Each team has its own mascot. From left to right in the photo above, the Toros del Este is a bull, Estrellas Orientales an elephant, Leones de Escogido a lion, Tigres de Licey a tiger, Águilas Cibaeñas an eagle and Gigantes del Cibao a horse.
Dominican Baseball Season
Since 1955 the Dominican baseball season has taken place during the winter months. LIDOM is the regulator and decides when the games will take place and where.
Serie del Caribe (Caribbean Series)
The Serie del Caribe occurs every year in a different Hispanic American country with shores on the Caribbean Sea. It consist of one team from each country competing with each other to win the championship. This is the greatest baseball competition in Latin America. The Dominican Republic has hosted the Serie del Caribe on 11 occasions from 1972 to 2016.
Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo has hosted the Serie del Caribe in the following years.
Estadio Cibao in Santiago de los Caballeros has hosted the Serie del Caribe in the following years.
Dominican Professional Baseball Stadiums
Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal ~ Santo Domingo
It was built by the Dominican government and inaugurated on October 23, 1955 with the name Estadio Trujillo. At the time of its inauguration it was the largest stadium built in the Dominican Republic. The Bobby Maduro Miami Stadium in Miami, Florida, United States was used as a model for its design. It can accommodate almost 16,500 spectators. In 1961 it had a name change to Estadio Quisqueya, one of the names the Taino indians had for Hispaniola and later “Juan Marichal” was added. In addition to hosting professional baseball games which takes place during the Dominican baseball season that ranges from October to February (including 8 Serie del Caribe championships), the stadium is used as a venue for artistic concerts and other social events such as the yearly “Quiéreme como soy” foundation event meant to bring awareness about Down Syndrome and procure donations to help Dominican parents of children with the condition. This is the only baseball stadium in the country that has two teams: Tigres de Licey and Leones de Escogido.
Estadio Cibao ~ Santiago de los Caballeros
It was built by the Dominican government and inaugurated on October 25, 1958 with the name Estadio Leonidas Radhamés. In 1961 it had a name change to Estadio Cibao, the name of the northern part of the Dominican Republic. Originally it was built to accommodate around 5,350 spectators, but in 1974 it was expanded to 18,077 and became the baseball stadium with the greatest capacity in the Dominican Republic and in the Caribbean. This is the home stadium of the Águilas Cibaeñas.
Estadio Julián Javier ~ San Francisco de Macorís
It was built by the Dominican government and inaugurated on October 4, 1975. It has the name of Estadio Julián Javier, a Dominican ex-baseball player for the St Louis Cardinals from 1960 to 1971 and the Cincinnati Reds in 1972 in the Major League of Baseball in the United States. It can accommodate 6,000 spectators. This is the home stadium of the Gigantes del Cibao.
Estadio Francisco A Micheli ~ La Romana
It was built by the Central Romana Corporation and inagurated on November 18, 1979. Originally it had the name Estadio Romana and later it was changed to Estadio Francisco A Micheli. It can accommodate 10,000 spectators. This is the only professional baseball stadium built by a private company in the Dominican Republic. This is the home stadium of the Toros del Este.
Estadio Tetelo Vargas ~ San Pedro de Macorís
It was built by the Dominican government and inaugurated on November 25, 1959 with the name Estadio Oriental. In 1963 it had a name change to Estadio Tetelo Vargas, a Dominican baseball player thst became known for his speed. It can accommodate 5,350 the least amount of spectators of all the stadiums of professional baseball in the Dominican Republic. This is the home stadium of the Estrellas Orientales.
Proposed New Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal ~ Santo Domingo
In 2019 was presented a new proposal for the remodeling of the Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo. This marvelous stadium design is the work the three Dominican architects Elizardo Ruíz, Ossie Reyes and Luis Zorrilla. The project includes redesigning the stadium and increasing its capacity to 25,000 spectators making it the largest baseball stadium in the Dominican Republic.
New Baseball Stadium and Team ~ Santo Domingo Este
The mayor of Santo Domingo Este, Manuel Jiménez, announced in 2020 that the municipality would build a professional baseball stadium and would establish a new baseball team with the name “Los Trinitarios.” No specifications were give in terms of the size and/or how many spectators it would accommodate. The mayor did said that it would be the most modern baseball stadium to date in the Dominican Republic.
Dominican Professional Baseball Stores
There are several official stores with all sorts of parapharnelias regarding each Dominican professional baseball teams and international baseball competitions such as the Serie del Caribe. These paraphernalias covers a wide range of goods such as jerseys, baseball caps, baseballs, mugs, keychains and more. In addition to LIDOM, which has its own shop and covers paraphernalias of all teams and baseball events, each team has its own shop with team specific paraphernalias. Some of these stores are the Tiger Shop for the Tigres de Licey, the Águila Shop for the Águilas Cibaeñas, the E Shop for the Leones de Escogido, etc. Many of these stores in addition to a brick-and-mortal presence has internet websites where these goods are also on sale.
Juan Marichal: The First Dominican Admitted into the Hall of Fame of Baseball
Juan Marichal was born on October 20, 1937 in Montecristi, Dominican Republic. He managed to play for various Dominican baseball teams prior to joining the Leones de Escogido. Later he was discovered and taken to the Major Leagues of Baseball (MLB) in the United States. There he played from 1960 to 1975 starting with the San Francisco Giants and ending with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the same hometeam of Jackie Robinson.
His extraordinary performance granted him admittance into the Pabellón de la Fama in 1980 in Santo Domingo. In 1983 he was admitted into the Hall of Fame of Baseball in Cooperstown, New York, United States. With that admittance he became the first Dominican admitted into the Hall of Fame of Cooperstown, the most important recognition in the professional baseball of the United States. The most important baseball stadium of the Dominican Republic has his name. In 2021, LIDOM and other entities created the “Premio Juan Marichal” to be granted to the best Dominican baseball players of all times.
Jackie Robinson in Santo Domingo
The American baseball player who is known for breaking the color barrier in the Major Leagues of Baseball (MLB) in the United States, until then it was prohibited for any non-white to play in the league, also played a baseball game in Santo Domingo. Aside from the United States, Jackie Robinson played baseball in just two other countries: Canada and the Dominican Republic.
The game in which Jackie Robinson played took place in the Estadio La Normal. This stadium was inaugurated on August 24, 1946 in Santo Domingo and is still in existence.
Jackie Robinson made Stamford, Connecticut, United States his new hometown from the 1950’s to his death on October 24, 1972. Among the many rememberance of Jackie Robinson in the city is the Jackie Robinson Park of Fame in the shape of a triangle in the West Side neighborhood and which includes a statue of him. Since the 1970’s, Stamford has seen the development of a Dominican and Dominican-American community that now forms several thousands. From entrepreneurial spirit in this community have sprung many Dominican owned businesses ranging from grocery stores, babershops, restaurants and more. Most of the have the Dominican flag incorporated to the business signs or are named after places and/or cultural references to the Dominican Republic.
Baseball Academies for the MLB and Japan
All the professional baseball teams of the MLB plus the Hiroshima Toyo Carp from Hiroshima, Japan established baseball academies in the Dominican Republic. Most are located in Santo Domingo province. They train many young promissing prospects to play professional baseball in the United States, Canada or Japan. The best are taken to those countries where often they are signed in multimillion dollar contracts, an amount truly astronomical since almost all prospects come from poor backgrounds. The Dominican Republic is the country that has supplied the most baseball players to the United States due in no small part to their extraordinary skills in exceling in baseball more than any other nationality.