Dominican Baseball An Exploration of the Modern Major League Baseball Academy System
This project concerns Major League Baseball’s (MLB) developmental academies in the Dominican Republic (henceforth D.R.). Athletes from across Latin America, once signed, begin at this first level of Minor League Baseball to prove their sporting abilities, learn English and become consummate professionals. This thesis describes the history of the United States (U.S.)-D.R. relationship through the lens of baseball, then moves into ethnographic fieldwork completed at one MLB academy in the D.R. during the summer of 2019. The research included watching Dominican Summer League games, touring the facility, interviewing staff and sitting in on a high school equivalency course. This fieldwork found various so-called ‘signs of universality’ as to how baseball is played worldwide: these include language/ritual, camaraderie, food, education and masculinity. The historical context surrounding the relationship between the nations shows how many neoliberal and neocolonial enclaves formed in the D.R., one of which is these baseball academies. Concluding thoughts cover how this system evolved, where it stands as of 2020 and what can still be improved to provide ideal conditions for these teenage players.