Dominican Professional Baseball League
|No. of teams||6|
The Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League (Spanish: Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana) or LIDOM by its acronym in Spanish, is a winter professional baseball league consisting of six teams spread across the Dominican Republic; it is the highest level of professional baseball league in the Dominican Republic. The league's players include many prospects that go on to play in Major League Baseball in the United States while also signing many current MLB veterans. The champion of LIDOM advances to play in the yearly Caribbean Series.
Each team plays a fifty-game round-robin schedule that begins at the middle of October and runs to the end of December. The top four teams engage in another round-robin schedule with 18 games per team from the end of December to the end of January; the top two teams in those standings then play a best-of-nine series for the national title. The league's champion advances to the Caribbean Series to play against the representatives from Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
|Águilas Cibaeñas||Santiago||Estadio Cibao||18,077|
|Estrellas Orientales||San Pedro de Macorís||Estadio Tetelo Vargas||5,573|
|Gigantes del Cibao||San Francisco de Macorís||Estadio Julián Javier||12,000|
|Leones del Escogido||Santo Domingo||Estadio Quisqueya||11,379|
|Tigres del Licey||Santo Domingo||Estadio Quisqueya||11,379|
|Toros del Este||La Romana||Estadio Francisco Micheli||8,838|
- Caimanes del Sur (San Cristóbal) 1983-1989
- Delfines del Atlántico (Puerto Plata) (This team did not play and was never officially in the league)
- Pollos del Cibao / Pollos Nacionales / Pollos Béisbol Club (San Francisco de Macorís) from 1999-2002, previously Gigantes del Nordeste, currently Gigantes del Cibao
During the years 1930-1963, military dictator General Rafael Trujillo can be credited with furthering the sport of baseball in Dominican Republic. Trujillo encouraged many sugar refineries to create teams of cane cutting laborers to play baseball during the idle months of cultivation. Fostering high levels of competition, the organization structure continued to mature stimulating growth in the intensity and popularity of the game.
In 1937, teams of the Dominican Republic signed a large amount of players from the Negro League of the United States. These players were given large salaries by Dominican men with money and political power. Among these players were baseball stars James Thomas "Cool Papa" Bell and Satchel Paige. However, these contracts exhausted team finances leading to a decline of Dominican baseball until 1950.
In the early 1900s, four Dominican teams formed. These teams still exist today, and form the foundation of Dominican professional baseball:
- Tigres del Licey (1907)
- Estrellas Orientales (1911)
- Leones del Escogido (1921)
- Sandino, later renamed Águilas Cibaeñas (1937)
Considered by both North American and Latin American players to be "the gringo's game" in the early 20th century, the sport of baseball was adopted by the Dominican Republic. These players avoided the ethnocentrism and exclusion of the major leagues of the United States, and developed their own teams. This brief era of Dominican baseball history (1950-1954) is known as "beisbol romantic" or the Era of Romantic Baseball. During the Romantic era, national play was revived and free of the influence of individuals outside of the country. Fandom of these teams skyrocketed and the sport of baseball became the national pastime of the Dominican Republic. From a cultural standpoint, baseball in the Dominican Republic was, despite its American origins, a local phenomenon.
As a cultural icon of the Dominican Republic, baseball holds a strong presence in the country. Surrounded by impoverished neighborhoods, these baseball stadiums of the larger Dominican cities are routinely maintained. Owners of big businesses like sugar refineries funded the construction of these fields, and benefit from the games. Games in these stadiums attract major crowds and a sense of community can be observed. Like their American counterparts, these "latinized" games exude free-spiritedness, social cohesion, and festivity from the fans and players alike. In the Dominican Republic, baseball players are regaled as sports heroes and function as role models to their fan base. This idolization is covered by the media more so than in the United States.
The Dominican Republic is a third world country plagued with poverty. In a 2010 CIA estimate, it was shown that 34.4 percent of Dominicans live below the poverty line. In addition, the CIA estimated in 2012 that unemployment of the Dominican Republic was 14.7 percent. Due to the Dominican Republic's weak economy, Dominican men have very few options for employment. It is this absence of options, the storied history of the sport, and the great success of those who make it to the major leagues that make it easy for Dominican youth to view the game as economic salvation. Baseball provides children living in the impoverished Dominican streets hope of a future where they can provide for themselves and their families. Because of this, children begin playing organized baseball as early as six years old, and compete with others in leagues with the hopes of being recognized by baseball scouts. The roster of the Dominican team at the 2013 World Baseball Classic featured 20 MLB players; the combined salaries of these athletes amount to $104,590,000, an amount that could sustain many individuals in Dominican communities.
Some argue that the perception of baseball as economic salvation is in reality detrimental to the youth of the Dominican Republic. For each time a Dominican succeeds, it intensifies the efforts of thousands of other Dominicans, motivating them to give up on education, concentrate solely on training for baseball, and ultimately fail at being signed overseas.
American hegemony inside Dominican baseball
After Fidel Castro's revolution in Cuba and the subsequent U.S. blockade, scouts of the majors turned their sights towards the Dominican Republic. Posed with the opportunity to acquire quality talent at a reasonable price, major league teams established "working relationships" with Dominican professional teams. Since the 1950s, all 30 MLB franchises have established baseball training academies in the Dominican Republic that are tasked by their respective teams to condition and prepare young Dominican prospects for a chance at further developing in the United States. Having produced many successful athletes from these academies, these academies undercut the reliance of U.S. teams on Dominican baseball organizations. This shift in relations where players can forego playing for professional Dominican teams have resulted in the underdevelopment of Dominican baseball, where Dominican teams cannot offer competitive deals to these young athletes so the quality of Dominican baseball leagues diminish.
As the United States has made its cultural presence in the Dominican Republic, Dominicans have fostered cultural resistance towards the hegemonic process. For Third World cultures, an antidote for this oppression is nationalism, which promotes culture and curbs overvaluation of the foreign nation that is influencing the subordinate culture. For the Dominicans, baseball plays this crucial role of resistance. This nationalism is indoctrinated in the print media of the country. Sports pages take the voice of the pro-Dominican/anti-American nationalist by focusing on the successes of the Dominican player, not the MLB team that they play for. Dominican players engulfed in the MLB system have also been observed to demonstrate cultural resistance in other ways. "Foot dragging" by Dominican athletes playing underneath American managers have occurred where the players throw games in order to defame their manager. Other occasions of players resisting American hegemony include the refusal to respond to interviews in English while in the Dominican Republic. Many Dominican players return during the winter to play winter baseball as a way of showing gratitude to their fans. These fans, hailing from the same villages and towns as these professional athletes, cheer for these hometown heroes no matter what team they play for. This fan base is perceived by these returning athletes as a more appreciative audience than they experience in the United States.
|1922||Leones del Escogido||Luis Alfau||Tigres del Licey|
|1924||Tigres del Licey||Charles A. Dore||Leones del Escogido|
|1929||Tigres del Licey||Charles A. Dore||Leones del Escogido|
|1936||Estrellas Orientales||Enrique Mejía||Tigres del Licey|
|1937||Dragones de Ciudad Trujillo||Lázaro Salazar||Aguilas Cibaeñas|
|Won Caribbean Series|
*Two Dominican teams participated in the Serie del Caribe in 2008
|Tigres del Licey||22 (2)*|
|Leones del Escogido||16 (1)*|
|Estrellas Orientales||2 (1)*|
|Toros del Este||2|
|Gigantes del Cibao||1|
|Caimanes del Sur||0|
|Dragones de Ciudad Trujillo||0 (1)*|
*Championships won before LIDOM (1951)
- HISTORIA DE LA SERIE DEL CARIBE Archived February 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.. Accessed on 2011-01-12.
- Van Hyning, Thomas E.; Valero, Eduardo (1995). Puerto Rico's Winter League: A History of Major League Baseball's Launching Pad. McFarland. p. 1.
- Klein, Alan. "Baseball as Underdevelopment: The Political-Economy of Sport in the Dominican Republic". Northwestern University, 1989
- Klein, Alan. "Culture, Politics, and Baseball in the Dominican Republic". Latin American Perspectives, 1995
- Gordon, Dan. "Winter League Escapades: Dispatches from Ballparks in the Dominican Republic". University of Nebraska Press, 2001
- Klein, Alan. "American Hegemony, Dominican Resistance, and Baseball". Dialectical Anthropology, 1988
- Jessop, Alicia (March 19, 2013). "The Secrets Behind The Dominican Republic's Success In The World Baseball Classic And MLB". Forbes. Retrieved January 3, 2014.