Friday, July 2, 2010

Barrio Ball

By Lawren Wolf (SMBA '11)
Throughout the entire trip, we saw some pretty amazing things, but what really primed my pump was a trip that the entire group took to one of the local barrios. By definition, barrio is the Spanish word for district or neighborhood, and many of the barrios in the Dominican Republic, while impoverished, are rich with baseball talent. Upon arrival in the barrio, we navigated through the narrow roads to the local baseball diamond, which one of our tour guides’ father runs. As kids in hand-me-down jerseys looked on, he told us how happy he was that our group was visiting the D.R. and how words could not explain how much it means to him that we are taking an interest in what they are doing there. He also told us sobering stories of the many players that have made it from that neighborhood to the riches of the big leagues, but have never given a penny back.

After the brief talk, the entire class took group pictures with the children and then took our seats in the run down bleachers to watch the youngsters play a game. We were enjoying the game, when a few of us noticed a group of older kids (in their early teens) playing a pick-up game in the outfield. A small group of us made our way to the outfield to watch these kids play and, before you knew it, they were inviting us to play with them. We gladly obliged and the pitchers started hurling a beat up rag ball in our direction while we swung for the fences with a small aluminum bat. Bailey Axelrod and myself had the most success, each hitting balls over the fence, and each time we did the kids joined us at home plate to jump up and down and celebrate as if we had just hit a “walk off” homerun to win the game. After taking our whacks on offense, we decided to return the favor by taking the field and letting the kids try to score on us. Ryan King, who struck out swinging in his only two at-bats, claimed that the size of the bat was the reason for his misfortune. Regardless of the accuracy of that statement, it provided the SMBA ’11 class, as well as the local Dominican children, with a lot of laughter and only added value to an awesome afternoon.

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