Born to Play Baseball
Born to Play Baseball
Why does the Dominican Republic produce so many Major League stars? Is it in their genes, their culture, their water? I wanted to travel there to find out what was so special about this small country, half the size of Indiana, and its mysterious ability to churn out Super Heroes. I had only heard the stories of its history and rich baseball culture, so my crew and I decided to spend the better part of a week in and around San Pedro, also known as “The Cradle of Shortstops”. Among the bustling streets and hearty smiles, San Pedro also houses its share of abandoned sugar cane mills, stray dogs, and entire families riding atop one motorcycle. It was clear from day one how huge baseball is to the Dominican people. I couldn’t turn my head without seeing a bat, ball, or glove. There were games being played in the street, on beaches, in empty grass. Everywhere was a potential field. It was hard not to see baseball being played. Amazing! Like I had woken up in Baseball Heaven.
Despite the limited resources, it was incredible to see such a high level of play from even the youngest of children.One of the hottest days, we pulled up to a large field to see hundreds of kids playing out their major league fantasies. I noticed something colorful lying in the sun-dried outfield. A pink and blue winter glove. I couldn’t help but question what the hell a winter glove would be doing in the middle of a Caribbean island. Then I looked around and saw lots of kids wearing them. Many swinging at hand made balls, turning double plays with these makeshift gloves, and sporting secondhand clothes. They were all different, unique, but played with the same desire, the same motivation. What made them stay this focused? Drove them to play so hard? To be so steadfast, wearing the footsteps of Dominican ballplayers from Felipe Alou to Albert Pujols. The more I observed and photographed, the more I understood. This is a culture that plays ball the way people breathe. Baseball is not just a game or a national pastime to them. It is a way out. It is life.
“Nacido Para Jugar Béisbol – Born to Play Baseball,” is a 12" square custom bound 112-page collection printed on beautiful uncoated Mohawk paper. The book visually illustrates how essential baseball is to the fabric of life for youth growing up in the country and reveals the immense hope the sport offers to Dominicans – especially to many living in modest and challenging circumstances. Land's images convey the depth and simplicity of the country's singular obsession, as youth are captured playing the game literally everywhere – streets, beaches and empty fields - with homemade equipment like make-shift bats (tree branches) and improvised fielding gloves (winter mittens).