Our Dominican Republic road trip once again proved to be the most special day of the week as the boys from Marin traveled to the hometown of their MLB coach Pedro Liriano!
Hitting the Road
The day started off at the crack of dawn in order for the team to make the three and a half hour journey north to La Piedra, Dominican Republic. With the ever trusty Martin Valdez (Global Baseball Adventures official bus driver) at the helm, everyone was excited for the road that lay ahead!
What made this journey extra special for the team is that the route traveled is one that Americans rarely see as the northern area of the Dominican Republic is filled with dense wild jungles that don’t lend themselves to the beach based tourism industry. The boys were amazed at the natural beauty and could not believe that this part of the island is relatively unexplored since most tourists spend all of their time at the beach when visit the DR.
After a brief stop for snacks at a roadside market the boys hopped back on the bus as everyone was ready to see where Coach Pedro was raised, where their Dominican teammate Adrian lives and to see all of the work that Coach Pedro does via his community service organization.
When the team from Marin pulled into La Piedra it was clear that it would be a day to remember!
Dominican music and smiles from spectators filled the ball field as the team bus pulled up to the sandlot where cows roamed right behind the outfield fence.
Coach Pedro and the rest of the Global Baseball Adventures staff that hail from La Piedra were swarmed by family members offering the biggest hugs as they stepped off of the bus. The boys from Marin were no exception to the hugs that were being offered and the team immediately felt like they had a second home upon arriving in La Piedra!
Star Spangled Banner in La Piedra, Dominican Republic
After all greetings had been made, a friendly game of catch and warmups that featured players of all ages put everyone into the ball playing mood.
What happened next left every player saying that today was their favorite day of the week: in a town where 100% of the community lives under the international poverty line and most homes do not have electricity or running water, the US and DR national anthems began blaring from a pickup truck parked behind home plate.
The boys from Marin were astonished by this generous gift from those with far less resources than they have. Despite there being such a large crowd for today’s game a pin drop could be heard dropping during this touching gesture.
Play Ball & Fun in the Rain
With dark thunder clouds looming in the distance both teams quickly began to play ball and the American bats came out with a bang! The boys from Marin strung together a string of booming doubles and jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. Pitcher Tommy Flynn showed not only an amazing fastball that kept the team from La Piedra scoreless but he also displayed the highest level of respect to his Dominican counterparts as he would tip his cap to the other team at the end of every inning.
At the start of the third inning a curious cow decided to interrupt the game as it wandered in to centerfield, snacked on some grass and slowly made it’s way out of the field via an opening along the left field line.
This humorous oddity was a sign of these to come as just moments later a down pour of rain sent everyone running for cover except. Everyone that is except for the teens of the field who were pouring their hearts out into the game they all love.
It look some coaxing from all coaches to get both teams off the field but the real fun began once they ran off the field and huddled together under a tarp to stay dry. After playing games and trying to communicate in one each others native languages, the teams decided to have some fun playing in the Caribbean rain! Signing and dancing in the rain ensued and no one cared less about their soaking wet uniforms!
When the rain finally ended the dirt infield had turned to mud and the outfield grass looked more like soggy moss. Although this meant that the game had to be cut short due all players were looking forward to sharing a home cooked meal with their new friends.
After a short stroll down the road to the Coach Pedro’s community center, the boys from Marin humbly served lunch to over 100 La Piedra residents.
After everyone in attendance had finished their home cooked lunch which was graciously made by Coach Pedro’s wife, the boys from Marin were began to excitedly hand out the shoe, clothing, baseball equipment and care packages that they had brought to the Dominican Republic.
The scene in the community room was a moving one as residents of all ages came to partake in the donation ceremont. Children with no shoes walked away with their first pairs, senior citizens took home much needed non-perishable foods and the teen baseball players who just hours earlier had mismatched uniforms all received baseball jerseys donated from Redwood High School in Marin County.
With the sun starting to set and a long bus drive ahead, the boys from Marin said goodbye to their new home away from home: La Piedra, Dominican Republic.
One word to describe today: PRICELESS!