SANTIAGO, D.R.–There is an exhibit here in Santiago on the history of baseball in the Dominican Republic and even if you're in the D.R., yet nowhere near this city, you have to go.
It's like someone picked up a wing of Cooperstown and sent it to this country. The exhibit itself was Hall Of Famer Juan Marichal's idea initially, and right now it sits in Santiago's art museum called Çentro Leon. It chronicles Dominican baseball from the early 1900's to the turn of the century, teaching novices like myself the true meaning behind winter league rivalries and the like.
My favorite part of the exhibit was the area that had various things Dominican children used for equipment over the years–milk cartons and cardboard boxes for gloves; mop sticks for bats and about 20 different types of material used for balls that included the head of a plastic baby doll, all hanging from the ceiling in front of a photograph of a young child without clothes in mid-swing on a sandlot.
Marichal and his group hopes to tour the exhibit around the States and the rest of the Caribbean, but the grand scheme is to one day begin a permanent home; a Hall Of Fame in the Dominican Republic.
"That's what we're aiming for," Marichal said Tuesday. "The players here deserve that honor and we have a rich tradition, a rich history that no one in the States seems to know. We've been playing baseball a long time; not just the last 40 years.
Änd this is where the players come from. It's important for us, but it's important for the game as a whole to recognize the traditions and histories in every country in Latin America.