Baseball: The Dominican Experience in history, film, literature and life

Project #: 29
Name: Richard Astro (; 407-927-0170)
Department: English and Philosophy
Academic Area: Anthropology, English, ESL, History, History & Politics, International Area Studies, Sociology

Title: Baseball: The Dominican Experience in history, film, literature and life

There are approximately 7,000 professional baseball players in 30 Major League Baseball organizations. Of that number, approximately 30% are Latino and the majority of them come from the Dominican Republic - a small island republic with a total population of about 10 million. Baseball in the DR is a way of life and more - it is pure passion - and for many young men and their families, it is viewed as "the way out." Each major league organization has an academy in the DR which houses upwards of 100 boys and young men from the age of 16 up to about 21 or 22 and where they "grow" their players. Most fall by the wayside. 2.7% make it to the big leagues. The project is to study this phenomenon - where and why it took root, exactly what it is now, and what can be done to help the more than 97% of those Dominican young men who don''t make it prepare for productive lives after they leave the same.

Associated Independent Study:
The project will involve talking with people in the game - both Anglo and Latin Americans (through contacts I will provide) and then writing an innovative research paper which - if it is of significant quality - might be used by those in professional baseball who are concerned about the situations of Latinos in the game.

Gained Experience:
For someone who in interested in baseball, Latin American history, economics, and politics, and in the general subject of American immigration policy, this project will provide her/him with a wealth of both textbook and direct personal knowledge. It could well lead the student to further study in any number of disciplinary areas related to the central subject.

The desired outcome of the project is an publishable article in a trade magazine rather than a traditional scholarly journal. The article will also be made available to the management of the New York Mets Baseball Organization where I serve as a consultant for education and service programs in the United States and the Dominican Republic.

I view this primarily as the student's project - I will provide guidance and direction. The resultant article will bear only the student's name. As I indicated above, the work will involve both scholarly research and interviews (both in-person and on by phone and email) with people in professional baseball.

In Philadelphia and, assuming the timing can be worked out, at the New York Mets minor league affiliate in Binghamton, New York.

Periodically - but on a specific schedule. Most meetings will be by video conference since I am not in Philadelphia during the summer. Should the student be able to meet me at one of the Mets affiliates (Binghamton, Brooklyn, Savannah, Kingsport [TN], or Port St. Lucie [FL], that will work as well. But there will be a minimum of one conference per week by phone/Skype or in person.

Interview Availability: April 18, 2014; April 21, 2014; April 22, 2014