Book Review: Dominican Baseball
In Dominican Baseball: New Pride, Old Prejudice, author Alan Klein takes a look at the important and contested relationship between Major League Baseball and Dominican player development.
Image credit: Temple University Press
There have been players playing baseball in Latin America and making a name for themselves since the 1950s in Major League Baseball. By the year 2000, every team had a player on their roster that was from the Dominican Republic (Currently, the St. Louis Cardinals have three players on their roster from the Dominican in Jhonny Peralta, Carlos Martinez, and Oscar Taveras. Two of the most popular prospects right now are Taveras and Gregory Polanco, both of which were born in the Dominican.). In 2002, the first Dominican to be named as a general manager in MLB was Omar Minaya when the New York Mets hired him to be their GM.
What Kein does is examine MLB’s history and influence in the Dominican. He explores the development of the booming industry and academies. It’s hard in this era not to find an organization without their being represented in the Dominican Summer League, which currently consists teams playing in five different divisions.
Klein looks at the dependence on the buscones, also known as the Dominican player developers. There’s also the issues of identity fraud and use of performance-enhancing drugs. When you look at the case of Martinez, his original contract to play professional baseball with the Boston Red Sox was voided because of issues relating to his age.
Klein tackles ethical, political, and economic issues and how baseball has responded to them.
There’s no dispute to how popular the game of baseball is in the Dominican. They feel pride when it comes to their growing influence in baseball. At the same time, there is some prejudice that prompts MLB to diminish claims on legitimacy. But through all of this, Klein’s book is sharp and smartly argued as he chronicles the contested relations in the modern era of the game and industry.