Baseball is enjoyed by all age groups in the Dominican Republic.Baseball is to the Dominican Republic what cricket is to Barbados or soccer is to Trinidad.

As in the U.S., it is the national sport, part of the country's DNA and played with a passion by little boys and big men alike.

The D.R. has sent hundreds to play Major League Baseball in the States; think David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, the Alou Brothers, Juan Marichal, Sammy Sosa, Robinson Cano and Albert Pujols. It also is host to a winter league for established players and up-and-comers.

In all, the Dominican Republic has produced more than 500 major leaguers, making the country the biggest producer of MLB players outside the U.S.

The sport is at the center of cultural life in the D.R. The first teams were formed in 1894, but today it is played everywhere, by professionals in stadiums and by amateurs in fields, streets or on uncultivated land.

Games were day-only until 1955, when Estadio Quisqueya was built in Santo Domingo. With the stadium came lights that rang in the golden era of baseball in the D.R.

Stadiums, called "play," today can be found in the main cities of Santo Domingo, Santiago, La Romana, San Pedro de Macoris and San Francisco de Macoris.

The winter season begins in October and finishes at the end of January with the proclamation of the tournament champion team, which goes on to represent the D.R. in the Caribbean series.

Visitors who want to attend a baseball game during the season can visit the Dominican Baseball League site at www.lidom.com. Most hotels and resorts also have information on schedules and game locations.

Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.

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