Baseball is not necessarily the first thing you might think of when visiting the Dominican Republic, but once you arrive, its presence and popularity is undeniable. Whereas other Latin American and Caribbean countries are known for the ever-popular soccer or football, the game of baseball has deep roots in the Dominican, making it an interesting portal to learning more about the history of the country as you enjoy the old ball game!
Baseball first came to the island of the Dominican Republic in the 19th century - originally by U.S sailors who were involved in sugar exporting, and then by Cuba national refugees who loved the game back home but fled because of political unrest. It wasn’t long before the first professional league in the Dominican was founded in 1890 and shortly thereafter, the game took off in popularity. During the mid-20th century, there was a tradition established with players coming from the United States to play during the famous Dominican Winter League - these were specifically African-Americans who were still living under racial segregation and were prohibited from playing in the major leagues, but found openness and acceptance in the DR.
Dominican baseball players are among the best in the world and this is largely attributed to the year-round accessibility of play, particularly after 1956, when the Winter Season was established. This allowed Dominican players to play both on the island and in the United States leagues. The other good news about winter league season in the Dominican is that it makes you highly likely to catch a game if you are escaping the long and cold winter months of North America or Europe.
You do not have to be a true baseball fan to get into the Dominican baseball spirit - on the island, baseball is a way of life where fans and spectators can enjoy each other's’ company, food, drinks and cigars in the stadiums of Santiago or Santo Domingo. Dominican fans are nothing like most people have ever seen before: fanatical about their home teams, they show up with painted faces to cheer on their favorite players, drink sweet rum and take home the glory.
Getting tickets to a baseball game comes fairly cheap compared to attending baseball games in the United States. If you are able to get to the ticket box office before 9am on the day of the game, you will likely have your pick of seats for the best price. If you can’t do that, you can always buy from scalpers just before the game but be forewarned that you will want to negotiate and tickets will be more expensive!
We always recommend that if you are taking a day trip (or two) to Santo Domingo, you take in a baseball game at Estadio Quisqueya - not only is it one of the biggest stadiums in the country, but it is also home to the two main Dominican teams where you can see fans riled up and rejoicing where their team wins. An hour and a half away in Santiago we like to cheer on the Aguilas (Eagles)! It’s a great to head to the big city for a game! Casa Linda often offers a bus for renters and owners to go and take in a game!
Closer to home, you can come out and root for our very own Casa Linda Vikingos! We have a local championship team right here in our project and the trophies to prove it!