Baseball, or pelota, has a special place in the hearts of Dominicans. The sport symbolizes hope for young people as they cheer for Dominican talent on the world stage. It gives them hope that their dreams can come true, like they did for stars like Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martínez, David Ortiz, José Reyes, Juan Marichal, and other players. Baseball is more than a game. It’s the DR’s way of maintaining its identity and rich culture.
Everyone knows that the United States is dominant in baseball. However, some of the best players in the history of the Major League have been Dominican. That’s why Dominican players in the Major League always highlight their national culture. They want their people to know that, though they’ve made it to the big league, in more ways than one, they haven’t forgotten their roots or who they are. Naturally, this endears them to their fans.
Many MLB professional athletes return home to the DR to play winter pelota, as a way to show their gratitude to their home fans. Once they’re home, they even go as far as to speak Spanish instead of English in their interviews. Not only is it about speaking a language that their fans will understand, but it’s also about showing their national pride.
When you’re visiting the DR during baseball season, you’ll notice newspaper articles celebrating Dominican players instead of their American rivals. Naturally, that’s to be expected, and goes with the territory.
Whether you’re into baseball or not, it’s good to know about our national league. That way, when you’re chatting with the locals, you can impress them with your knowledge.
The DR Professional Baseball League
The Dominican national league is called LIDOM (La LIga Profesional de Béisbol de la Republica DOMinicana). The baseball season starts in mid-October and runs through to mid-January.
LIDOM has six teams:
- Tigres del Licey: Estadio Quisqueya, Santo Domingo
- Leones del Escogido: Estadio Quisqueya, Santo Domingo
- Águilas Cibaeñas: Estadio Cibao, Santiago
- Toros del Este: Estadio Francisco Micheli, La Romana
- Gigantes del Cibao: Estadio Julián Javier, San Francisco de Macorís
- Estrellas Orientales: Estadio Tetelo Vargas, San Pedro de Macorís
Founded in 1907, Tigres del Licey is the oldest team. The Estrellas Orientales followed in 1911, and the Leones del Escogido, in 1921. Sandino, later renamed Águilas Cibaeñas, was founded in 1937. These four are seen as the cornerstone of Dominican baseball.
Baseball season in the DR
The season is split into three stages, which ends in an intense battle for the national title. For starters, the six teams play a schedule of 50 games from mid-October to the end of December. Following this, the top four teams will play another 18 games each from that point until the end of January.
To close things off, the top two teams go head-to-head in a nine-match series to determine the winner and national champion.
The proud winner of the national league will represent the DR in the Caribbean Series (Serie del Caribe), against the top teams from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Cuba.
Which team is the best?
Ask any Dominican this question, and you’ll be in for a lengthy, but fun, debate!
With 22 wins, the Tigres del Licey is the leader of the pack, having won the most national championships since LIDOM started in 1951.
However, you might want to root for Gigantes del Cibao, the underdogs of the league. They only have one win to their name. But we love underdogs, right? They usually work hard to prove themselves and surprise those who didn’t believe in them.
Go to a game
One of the ways to really enjoy our culture is by going to a baseball game, which is a big deal here, and a memorable experience. Estadio Cibao is the largest stadium in the DR, and seats over 18,000 spectators. The DR hosted the 2008 Caribbean Series here.
But even if you’re not a huge sports fan, don’t miss the chance to watch a. You might even catch the baseball fever. What’s more, you can get your groove on at the after-party.
Are you ready to watch a ‘juego de pelota’? Get a head start on booking your stay with us, so you won’t have a headache later with the rush when baseball season starts.