Thorn: Pride and passion, baseball in the Dominican Republic

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on January 25, 2013:

Except among old fogies, it is commonplace wisdom that baseball and its players improve with each generation.

Drawing from ever wider pools of talent, our game has seen an advance in the average level of skill that is undeniable, even if it may be hard to pinpoint without the use of advanced statistics. Here is not the place for that, so consider this old-timer’s contention that fielding plays were visible every day last year that were not made at any time in the 1950s. Today’s game is better because its players are better, and much of the reason for that will be found in the Dominican Republic.

The numbers are simply astonishing, telling a story all by themselves. Since 1956, when Ossie Virgil broke in with the New York Giants, 563 Dominicans have played Major League Baseball; of these, 128 played last year (California, with a population four times as large, supplied not twice the players).

Roughly a quarter of the 7,000 Minor League players in the U.S. are Dominican, too–so this trend shows no sign of slowing.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: January 25, 2013. Last Updated: January 25, 2013.