Baseball players from the Dominican Republic
When photographer Michael Hanson traveled to the Dominican Republic to document what would become his series about baseball in the Caribbean nation, he was struck by how ubiquitous the sport is there.
“Kids play sports everywhere in every country, ” Hanson wrote via email. “It just feels different in the Dominican Republic. It’s on every corner and it’s all day and all night and there aren’t other sports as distractions. I think that’s the difference between the United States and the Dominican Republic in my mind, and maybe that’s why the Dominican level of success in professional baseball is so high.”
It certainly can’t hurt. Hanson spent a few weeks over two separate trips documenting players in the tiny country who are beginning to dominate the major leagues. Hanson, himself an all-American shortstop at Washington and Lee University and a player in the Atlanta Braves minor leagues, noted on his website that in 2011, three out of nine positions on the American League All-Stars were from the Dominican Republic.
San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. Two teenagers opt out of watching the cattle and instead practice their swings. The cows graze on the town trash while one young man swings a board at a flying bottle cap.
The Dominican Braves bow for a prayer after a game as dark clouds linger overhead. All these players have signed a professional contract with the Atlanta Braves, but only the best will make the move to the U.S. to play in the minor leagues.
Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. A professional player waits for foul balls near the fence line that separates the local kids. Most young boys dream of playing for the professionals, where signing bonuses often exceed six figures.
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