When we think of the Dominican Republic our minds immediately go to its delicious culinary culture which features fried fish and tostones, sancocho, mofongo, and your choice of fresh tropical juices, mama juana, an ice cold Presidente cerveza, or a glass of local rum to wash all that good food down. But what about the white sand beaches of Punta Cana, La Romana, and Juan Dolio, the gorgeous dark sand of its northern beaches like Puerto Plata (playground of water sport enthusiasts), the whale watching at Samaná Bay, the historical sites of Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial, or Ocean’s 4, a PGA golf course at Playa Nueva Romana? Did we mention the music? Bachata, merengue, reggaeton, or dembow anyone? Well, it’s time to add another item to your list of reasons to visit this glorious Caribbean nation, LIDOM. The acronym stands for: Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana Inc., and, as you may have guessed, it is full of superstars.
Baseball is to the Dominican Republic what hockey is to Canada. It’s not just a sport. It’s a culture and a source of great national pride. Next to the USA whose players dominate the ranks of Major League Baseball, the Dominican Republic sends more players to MLB than any other nation. Think of Blue Jays past and present like George Bell, Tony Fernandez, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Teoscar Hernández, Raimel Tapia, and the Dominican-Canadian, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Is it any wonder then that the MLB has invested millions to build “Baseball City” in Boca Chica, a sprawling terrain of back-to-back MLB campuses focused on recruiting and training the next generation of Dominican super stars.
There is considerable debate about how, when, and by whom the sport of baseball was introduced in the D.R. Some historians believe that baseball grew out of the introduction of cricket by British colonialists in the south of the country in the mid-nineteenth century. However, most histories give credit to Cuban visitors in the late nineteenth century or American soldiers in the early twentieth. Amateur baseball started in the 1940’s with tournaments held in honour of the late dictator Rafael Trujillo who was instrumental in building the first stadium (in his name of course) in 1946.
Founded in 1955, the league now boasts six teams from across the country that play in packed stadiums from October to December or January, culminating in a seven-game final, this year (2023) featuring the Tigres del Licey of Santo Domingo and Estrellas Orientales of San Pedro de Macorís. MLB and LIDOM have a symbiotic relationship, with the latter featuring future MLB players, current MLB players, and MLB veterans. So, during your next visit, why not add a baseball game to your must-see list in the D.R.