This morning we awoke to headlines in the local paper that you might mistake for a World Series championship. The last place Tigres del Licey defeated the first place Estrellas del San Pedro. (See last night's post). That's it. The local baseball team beat a nearby baseball team. You would have thought Game 7of the American World Series was on the line. All day Licey fans were talking smack and racing up and down Santo Domingo streets with Licey banners streaming from their cars.
Mid-morning we drove past Olympic Stadium where I saw young prospects running in the park under the watchful eyes of buscones, the unoffical scouts here who recruit and develop young talent not for love of the game but for money. Later I saw a larger group of younger players jogging along a city street just in front of a truck with speakers blasting merengue music to encourage their running.
Late this afternoon we drove outside of Santo Domingo to Boca Chica where the New York Mets have a drop-dead gorgeous baseball academy for Latino prospects. It is located adjacent to the Phillies academy and just down the street from the Yankees academy. In the area are scores of other professional academies where young prospects, sleep, eat and play baseball day after day getting ready for pro ball in the States.
Last night as we drifted off to sleep watching something impossible to see in the United States -- the Serie Nacional de Cuba. The Dominican close to Cuba both geographically and culturally.
This very poor country in the Western Hemisphere is rich beyond belief in baseball knowledge, skills and capacity.
I will write separately about the poverty here and the inspiring work of Esperanza International.