SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic– The Harvard Baseball team traveled to the Dominican Republic over the holiday break where the team played three games and performed multiple service acts on the island.
"What an amazing opportunity and experience to lead our program and represent Harvard University with this cultural, training, team bonding and baseball experience," said The Joseph J. O'Donnell '67 Head Coach for Harvard Baseball, Bill Decker. "From the playing field, to the time spent with the children at the orphanage, to our house painting project in the village, to our visit in the Colonial Zone and beyond this was a life learning and eye-opening endeavor. The engagement and interactions our team had with people in the Dominican Republic was incredible! I am grateful our baseball program was able to have this type of connection as we move forward in 2019."
Day 1 – Wednesday, December 26
The team arrived on the island and began preparations for a busy week, enjoying the beautiful sunset at the team's resort.
We have touched down in the Dominican Republic and are very excited to do some work in the community and play some baseball!— Harvard Baseball (@HarvardBaseball) December 26, 2018
Make sure to follow along on Instagram too ⤵️https://t.co/nPDF1QpL4g#GoCrimson���� pic.twitter.com/tIXKKxokiE
Day 2 – Thursday, December 27
Next, the team traveled to Centro Olimpico, the site of the first game of the trip, facing the Dominican Army. Former MLB All-Star closer Francisco Cordero performed the ceremonial first pitch. During the game, New York Yankees ace and MLB All-Star Luis Severino arrived without warning. The game took a brief break so the team could meet and take pictures with Severino. Following the game, former Boston Red Sox and World Series champion Julio Lugo met with the squad. Following the game, the Dominican Army team supplied lunch for the coaches and players.
"This trip revitalized and reminded me why it is I love baseball so much," said senior Jake Allen. "After playing against the teams we did and at the parks we played at and seeing how genuinely grateful they were to play baseball, I found this general attitude to be infectious."
After the lunch, the team traveled to the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo. The historic area was where Christopher Columbus first landed the Americas in 1492.
Day 3 – Friday, December 28
The third day started early for the squad, as the team met in the dark at the beach for a team workout. Accompanied by a team-favorite training partner, a dog the locals call El Capitan, the team enjoyed the sunrise during the workout. After, the team readied for its trip to the Casa de Amor orphanage. Each athlete was paired with a child to spend some quality one-on-one time with. Each member of the program brought a hygiene kit and a small gift for each child.
The afternoon was spent on the field, taking on the LBL All-Stars. The members of the LBL taught players and coaches about a game that the locals call, "Vitilla." The game consits of a pitcher who throws a cap to a water jug while the hitter attempts to hit it with a broomstick. A fairly large crowd of locals filled the bleachers for the game in which the Crimson beat the LBL All-Stars, 2-1. The night ended with a trip to a Winter League game to watch Estrellas Orientales beat Escodigo, 6-0.
Day 4 – Saturday, December 29
The last full day of the trip began with the team's final game, beating Paulino Academy, 8-3. The academy has produced top MLB talents like Robinson Cano and Sammy Sosa.
The team played strong in the early season contests, earning a 2-1 record on the trip.
Following the game, the team went a local village and spent the afternoon painting a house together. The athletes and coaches were able to interact with local children who asked to join in the team's efforts at the house.
Throughout the trip, members of the team often gave away shirts, hats, baseballs and some other small items to children and other locals, and at the conclusion of the trip, the team donated the remaining equipment to local programs and players.
"The trip was a great way to help the community. I think we left the area a little bit better than we found it," said junior Hunter Bigge. "Our team grew closer together through playing baseball, hanging at the beach, doing community service and interacting with the locals. I'd do this trip again in a heartbeat."
"The team will be able to go back to the moments from this trip when we face adversity later in the year," said senior Chase Aldridge. "In many ways, we were forced to work through the values of our team ethos during the trip. We are all pulling on the same rope."
We are forever grateful for our friends at @Dominicanbball for making this once-in-a-lifetime trip possible! Thank you for an incredible week of service and baseball! #GoCrimson���� pic.twitter.com/Up6aqQsTYw— Harvard Baseball (@HarvardBaseball) January 2, 2019