Dominican Republic Baseball Trip

Connor Kenny

Hello Bronxville Students, my name is Connor Kenny and I am a sophomore.

Last March, I received an email from Matt Kirby, an assistant baseball coach from the University of Virginia about an extremely rare and unique opportunity. I was invited to the Dominican Republic for a week in the middle of August to compete against local Dominican players. I was extremely excited to go and play in the Dominican Republic given the raw talent they have. In fact, the Dominican Republic currently puts more baseball players in the Major Leagues, per capita, including the U.S. I also knew that with this invitation, I was going to get a first hand look of how kids my age live in the DR, differing from kids in the U.S. 

As soon as I landed, I was welcomed with a late lunch before starting baseball activities. Safe to say, the cuisine was a little different from the States, chicken and rice had become a common option for lunch and dinner. Following lunch, all the players walked from our hotel to a nearby field, where the streets were filled with trash, waste, dogs, and other wild animals. Surprisingly, however, throughout the week I noticed that despite such poor living conditions, I had never seen a group of happier people than the local civilians in Boca Chica. Whenever they saw us walking around town with a bat or glove, they’d give us a wave or honk their horns even though we were total strangers. That was my first glimpse of the passion the people from the Dominican Republic had for baseball. I would see 3 or 4 guys on top of their roofs using a long stick and tin foil simulating a game of baseball because they had no other way to play. Furthermore, whenever we stepped on a field, all of a sudden there would be a huge crowd of young kids cheering us on, we would show up three times a day from anytime between 8am-7pm and we always saw the same big group of kids ready to watch us play. The games were awesome, 15 kids from the United States, against 15 from the DR. The Dominican players brought an insane amount of energy to every play and even though we couldn’t understand what they were saying, it was clear how important baseball was to them. They had the perfect balance between competitiveness and enjoyment when it came to baseball…. and they were good at it, really good at it. They live for it, whether it’s practicing on the beach at 6 in the morning, or having to play on a patch of dirt on the side of the highway. They will do anything to play baseball, and they never complain. Some players were so good that we ended up seeing some scouts from Major League teams such as the Mets and Rangers come and watch them play. Unfortunately, most of the players can not afford things like baseball pants, helmets, gloves, or batting gloves and they would ask us to give them anything extra we had. Almost everyone felt as if it was the right thing to do, and the smiles they had on their faces made it worthwhile. After my experience in the DR,  it made me realize how lucky I was to be born in the United States and to naturally be given such amazing opportunities, but for the kids in the DR, baseball is their only way of making it in this world, and they’re hungry to get out.