The Opportunity of a Lifetime

The game of baseball presents endless opportunities for Dominican immigrants

High school baseball player Orlando Sosa and head coach Mario Lugones Jr. explain the opportunities presented in America for Dominican athletes.

            The game of baseball is played and loved around the world. While many people enjoy the sport, it is much more significant in the Dominican Republic. Baseball is more than just a game in the Dominican Republic, it is a way of life. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, athletes are introduced to the game at an early age. They will play baseball under any circumstance, sometimes meaning that they will use milk cartons as gloves, and sticks as bats. Some of the most popular and best professional baseball players in the MLB are Dominican. Some of those players include Nelson Cruz of the Minnesota Twins, Albert Pujols of the Anaheim Angels, Robinson Cano of the New York Mets, and many more. This story will focus on the Dwight Morrow High School baseball team, who have plenty of Dominican players on it, and are looking to take advantages of the opportunities that are presented to them in America.

            Head coach Mario Lugones Jr. knows that his team is different from a lot of their competition. “My entire team is Dominican,” Lugones mentions. He then went on to say, “That little island produces thousands of baseball players that can play at the college level and the pro level.” Lugones goes on to explain how the energy and communication that Dominican baseball players have is different than most American baseball players, and most of their competition. The Dwight Morrow baseball team chants together and communicates with each other exclusively throughout their games. The bond that these Dominican players have together is like a unique brotherhood. The team chemistry stands out when they play.

            Star player Orlando Sosa also speaks on being a descendant of the Domincan Republic, and what it is like playing the game in America. “I am the only person from my family that has ever made it to college,” Sosa says. Playing baseball in America can lead to opportunities that may not be available in other countries, such as the Dominican Republic. American athletes have the opportunity to turn their skill in the game of baseball into a college degree. The ability to attend college and pursue a potential career outside of the game can be substantial for an athlete. While all of these players hope to make it professional one day, having an alternate route will pay huge dividends. The sport of baseball can open doors for people that they never knew were possible. Sosa also says “Baseball has literally been my life,” confirming the importance of baseball for Dominican athletes. Working towards accomplishing a goal is essential for anyone, and Dominican baseball players do not have to look too hard to see the stars from their homeland playing in the MLB.

Some of the benefits that Dominican immigrants get living in America are the resources and opportunities that come along with the sport. America can offer much higher quality fields and equipment to these athletes. “Over here (America) we have brand new bats, over there (Dominican Republic) they used wooden sticks as bats. It is a big difference,” Sosa mentions.

The game of baseball can open so many doors for young athletes. Dominican athletes understand that at a deeper level. In the Dominican Republic, the baseball players are essentially put on the clock until the age of 16. Their ultimate goal is to be able to sign a professional contract by the age of 16. Sosa mentions that, “If you are not ready by the age of 16, you are not going anywhere.” Therefore, Dominican immigrants understand and appreciate the opportunities that America can offer because being a professional is not the only goal. While their top priority may be to make it professionally, there are other opportunities that will be available, such as getting a higher education and becoming a professional in a different field. Coach Lugones takes pride in promoting academics to all of his players, and understands that baseball cannot be the only option for these players. There will always be the opportunity to play baseball, but taking advantage of the other opportunities in America is what coach Lugones is promoting to his team. The educational opportunity aspect in America is something that is not relatable in the Dominican Republic. The luxuries such as nicer fields and top-notch equipment is great and very stylish, but the educational opportunities is what separates the country of America from others. Dominican baseball players have a unique ability in the sport, and are grateful for the opportunities that they have been given in America.

Joe Lapi – Student at Montclair State University majoring in Telvision &Digital Media with a concentration in Sports Media and Journalism. Former football player at Sacred Heart University, 2014 NEC Champion.

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