First great collapse

It is not until 1929 that a national tournament is re-assembled with teams from the traditional venues: two for the capital (Licey and Escogido) and the Sandino de Santiago. In addition, the reinforcements coming mainly from Cuba gave him a lot of quality. 

In the end, the Licey won again coming from behind and despite the accident of the competition. Once again those from Santiago and the Lions suffered the mass desertion of their reinforcements, among them men of the stature of Martín Dihigo, Bernardo Baró and Agustín Bejerano, as well as their young and dazzling shortstop Tetelo Vargas, who accepted the offer of Alejandro Pepez of going to play in New York in the Big Black Leagues.

With this trip from Tetelo, one of the most brilliant races started with a Dominican athlete. Moved to the central forest to take advantage of his extraordinary speed, Vargas developed a wonderful activity wherever he could play and only the intolerance that was then maintained in the Major Leagues, which did not allow the entry of black men, prevented him from playing in that circuit. Within the current parameters, Tetelo would be designated as possessor of the five basic conditions for playing baseball and it is very difficult (not to say impossible) to create a team of Dominican stars of all times and not include it. During the development of the 1929 tournament, the Santo Domingo press began calling Sandino from Santiago as Águilas Cibaeñas. The competition started on the 9 in March and ended the 16 in June, when the Licey was crowned champion. It was played in Santiago for the first time and there the Escogido lost two games that were fatal to their aspirations. When the aforementioned reinforcements left their ranks, the Lions were in a comfortable position, but a spectacular rebound of the blue was decisive for the final result.

Finally, it is important to note that the Association of Sports Writers (ACD) was founded in 1929, an organization that brings together the country's sports press and that would play a fundamental role in the development and consolidation of baseball in the country. In its bosom several of the most illustrious talents of the Dominican press have developed. Despite these facts and that in that 1929 was precariously proclaimed a champion, in the end the excessive expenses incurred during the tournament by the owners of equipment led to what may be called the first major collapse of baseball. Simply the Dominican economy did not support tournaments like those held in Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Cuba, societies with greater social, economic and political development. The third decade of the twentieth century began in the Dominican Republic with a fact that would be momentous. The violent political change that led the then magistrate to the then brigadier Rafael Leonidas Trujillo impacted in such a way the future of the country that its effects are still felt. Coinciding with its seizure of power, at 1930, the capital was affected by the blow of a terrible hurricane, known as San Zenón, which destroyed the facilities that were used to play baseball, the La Primavera racetrack and the School Gym. The meteorological event caused the suspension of this type of activities, which fell (like sports in general) in total abandonment. It is true that in that same year 1930 School Gym was rebuilt with the sponsorship of the municipality of Santo Domingo, but this facility had very little functionality to play baseball, especially because the area of ​​the public was very uncomfortable. However, until 1936 there were short series between local teams and with representations from abroad that visited the country.

The havoc caused by San Zenón was not so harmful in the interior of the country, so that in Santiago baseball continued to be played and many talents stood out, although the situation of the activity was critical because people did not attend the games as in the past recent. The production capacity of the central region of the nation was not yet at the level of the south coast, with the capital at the head, and most of the athletes that emerged from those parts ended up moving to Santo Domingo, where they could receive better salaries . Such were the cases of men like Horacio Martínez and his brother Aquiles, Bragañita García and Enrique Lantigua. This was so despite the fact that the social layers considered high at that time considered that the practice of baseball did not ensure the economic and social future of a person, so many families tried to take their children away from the sport.

Take as an example what happened with the pitcher from Santiago, Eduardo Khoury, whose parents had arrived at the capital of the Cibao at the end of the previous century as Arab emigrants and there formed a family based on honest and tenacious work. According to the news of the time, Khoury was one of the stellar pitchers of Santiago and on several occasions he was successful, with solid work against powerful contenders. He was famous because he dominated with control what are now called breaking shots. However, there is no evidence that this player was part of the representative team of the area in the tournaments held at that time, which suggests that the home discipline wanted to avoid the distraction of studies that could represent the practice of sport. Khoury was then a pharmacy professional graduated from the University of Santo Domingo and his life went on as originally planned by his parents, focused on honest work and transferring to the family he created the values ​​instilled in the past. As his case, there are hundreds in all the national geography of that time.

The same obstacles that impeded progress in the nation, prevented further progress in baseball. However, there were not a few Dominicans who came to play baseball stellarly and found abroad opportunities that allowed him to shine and escalate fame. They were above the environment that surrounded them and since then they placed the name of the nation on high.

During 1936 the panorama of baseball begins to change. The year kicks off with a visit from the Cincinnati Reds, as part of a tour of the region and within their training program for that year's Major League season. They played two exhibition games, one against the Chosen, who won comfortably, and another against Licey, where they also emerged victorious by a costly mistake by José Saint Claire playing out of position, in right field, which marred the brilliant work made by Creole pitcher Gustavo Lluberes. This series led to the remodeling of the Municipal Sports Field, former School Gymnasium, to which some steps purchased in Puerto Rico were adapted. Since the San Zenón cyclone, in 1930, the capital city lacked an adequate facility to perform baseball games.

The Reds came to star in a series in Puerto Rico, verified at the Sixto Escobar stadium, where they faced the Aztecs of Mexico, the Cuban Almendares and the local Brooklyn Eagles. They were hired to come to the Dominican Republic by Alfredo Nadal, then the country's leading sports promoter, and they demanded 1,500.00 US dollars, plus 65% of the tickets to the stadium. The event could be carried out because Trujillo made a contribution of 500.00 dollars, convinced as he was of how important it was to project a good image, which would be transmitted to the United States by the delegation of journalists that normally accompanied the Major League teams in tour. The games were broadcast on radio and caused such a commotion that for the first meeting employees were offered a break and the United States Ambassador launched the first ball.

Taken from the book See you on the play! Baseball and Culture in the Dominican Republic, by the essayist Tony Piña

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