|Dominicans are passionate fans of baseball, or
pelota, as they call it. Baseball was introduced at the beginning
of the 20th century, during the American occupation. It is played by children
on the streets as well as by trained players in stadiums. The baseball
season starts in October and many American major-league players come to
play with local leagues.
enjoy flying colourful kites called chichiguas.
|The five baseball teams in the Dominican professional
league are closely watched by major-league scouts, because the Dominican
Republic is considered an excellent source of major-league players. It
is the largest single country of origin for foreign players in the United
States. Successful players like Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs and Alex
Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners are an inspiration to many young Dominicans
who love the game.
Before baseball became popular, cockfights were
the national passion. These fights are legal, and are still popular among
men in small towns and rural areas, although the authorities disapprove
of them. Each town and village has its own gallera, or cockfight
pit. On Saturdays and Sundays, men and boys bring their favourite roosters
to compete in the gallera. Others come to watch the match and bet
on the outcome. During cockfights, music is played and rum is served, and
police officers supervise. In Santo Domingo, the sport is considered an
|Many Dominicans enjoy horseback riding. In the
countryside, one can often see farmers riding horses around the sugar cane
fields. Horse racing is also a popular spectator sport. Dominicans enjoy
swimming at the many public beaches around the island. Young people who
enjoy dancing may go to one of the country's many clubs to dance merengue
player Mary Joe Fernandez was born in the Dominican Republic. She won the
Grand Slam in 1986 at the age of 14.
|Dominicans work long hours and have little time
for recreation and socializing. In small towns, the focus of social life
is the central park or plaza, where people go to stroll and chat with friends.
In rural areas, men get together in stores, bars or pool rooms, to talk
and play pool or dominoes. Farm families go to town on Sundays to shop
and attend mass. Women and children generally return home first, to prepare
Sunday dinner, while the men stay to enjoy an afternoon cockfight or a
game of baseball or basketball.
Sosa's charity foundation donated over US$3 million to open the first free
preventive medicine and immunization clinic for children in his hometown
of San Pedro de Macoris. Tony Fernandez, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays,
has also formed a charity to help the poor of the Dominican Republic.