I recently seen a documentary that follows two young dominican baseball players who have the dream to become a major baseball player in America. The fate of their childhood dreams dwell in the hands of the Major League Baseball Association, a dominant baseball institute that seeks top-notch baseball players. In the Dominican Republic the MLB makes tremendous profit because they decide the value upon dominican prospects.
Jean Carlos Batista, who signed with the Houston Astros in 2010, had to be processed through a MLB age required verification. In 2009, he was reported that he lied about his age, and actually was a year older. This prevented him to sign with any clubs that year and lowered his value. Initially the Astros offered a signing bonus of $300,000, but due to his fraudulent lie he was re-offered a signing bonus of $280,000.
On the other hand, top prospect, Miguel Angel Sano was allegedly accused to defraud the MLB of millions because multiple allegations stating he was actually his impostering as his deceased brother. These Allegations were summoned by MLB personnel and recruiters, not dominican personnel. Through the delays from maternal blood testing, skeletal aging, and finally documentation of birth, Miguel was able to sign with the Minnesota Twins in September of 2009. His signing bonus was the second highest bonus in the amount of $3.15 million.
Currently all 30 major league baseball clubs have established baseball academies on the island. All of which has the objective to produce baseball phenoms that will bring extraordinary amusement to America’s favorite pastime at cheaper prices. The MLB invests $84 million dollars into dominican baseball. Recently the Seattle Mariners had a grand-opening ceremony of their $7 million, 24 acre academy. As of now, $15 million is used to operate these academies. Each facility provides coaching , uniforms, equipment, dormitories, and meals to players that are signed. In 2009-2010, clubs spent an average of $94,000 for each dominican player.
Prior to the age of 16 years old, which is the magic number for young ball players, Buscones, or local dominican baseball trainers, find boys that have potential to make the academies. They fundamentally prepare them, so they can perform while scouts decide the worth of a player’s ability. It’s basically a market, where the dominican baseball players are goods demanded by teams. The Buscones and the MLB, within this sports market, invest money and time for profit. Whether profit is revenue or championships, the MLB organization regulates future talent that will be shipped to the states.
Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) reported because the MLB is a multinational corporation it is difficult to enforce applicable international and municipal law. Additionally, the MLB has achieved preferential legal treatment by the courts and congress. There have been 44 attempts to repeal the “business of baseball” from exploiting the Dominican Republic baseball culture. Justice Landis said, “Any blows at…baseball would be regarded by this court as a blow to a national institution.” He was stating about the repeals of the exemption of baseball from the Sherman Antitrust Act. The Sherman Antitrust Act, or Competition Law, was passed by Congress in 1890 to prevent the combination of entities that could potentially harm market competition, such as monopolies.
Of course, notable dominican players like Sammy Sosa, Robinson Cano, or David Ortiz have assets worth millions of dollars but unfortunately the truth is that each of these players signed at least under $150,000. Top prospects in U.S. don’t receive signing bonuses, but they are not forced to earn a living from an early age of 14 years old, and fight their way out of poverty. Dominican ballplayers sometimes abandon school and home, so they can earn a cheap bonus check at the age of 16 and an odd of one in every one hundred youngster makes it to the academy, not the majors.
- Jesse Sanchez, “Creating complete, healthy players,” (mlb.com publ. 09/18/2007 accessed: 11/18/14)
- COHA, “Realities Behind America’s Pastime: The Dominican’s Cheap Labor Bazaar for the Major leagues,” (coha.org publ. 04/20/2010 accessed: 11/19/14)
- Alicia Jessop, “The Secrets behind the Dominican Republic’s Success in the World Classic and MLB,” (forbes.com published. 03/19/2013 accessed: 11/19/14)
- Greg Johns, “New Academy Boosts Mariners’ Presence in DR,” (mlb.com published: 2/13/14 accessed: 11/19/2014).
- Palash Ghosh, “High Salaries and a Poverty-Stricken Country: The Economics of Baseball in the Dominican Republic,” (ibtimes.com pub. 01/24/14 accessed: 11/19/14).