In the town of San Pedro in the Dominican Republic, baseball is not just a way of life, it’s the
way of life. By the year 2008, seventy-nine boys and men from San Pedro
had gone on to play in the Major Leagues—that means one in six
Dominican Republicans who have played in the Majors have come from one
tiny, impoverished region. Manny Alexander, Sammy Sosa, Tony Fernandez,
and legions of other San Pedro players who came up in the sugar mill
teams flocked to the United States looking for opportunity, wealth, and a
Because of the sugar industry and the influxes of migrant workers from
across the Caribbean to work in the cane fields and factories, San Pedro
is one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the Dominican Republic. A
multitude of languages are spoken there, and a variety of skin colors
populate the community; but the one constant is sugar and baseball. The
history of players from San Pedro is also a chronicle of racism in
baseball, changing social mores in sports and in the Dominican Republic,
and the personal stories of the many men who sought freedom from
poverty through playing ball. The story of baseball in San Pedro is also
that of the Caribbean in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and, on a broader level, opens a window into US history.
As with Mark Kurlansky’s Cod and Salt, this small story,
rich with anecdote and detail, becomes much larger than ever imagined.
Kurlansky reveals two countries’ love affair with a sport and the
remarkable journey of San Pedro and its baseball players. In his
distinctive style, he follows common threads and discovers wider
meanings about place, identity, and, above all, baseball. Download and start listening now!