cover image Pitching Democracy: Baseball and Politics in the Dominican Republic

Pitching Democracy: Baseball and Politics in the Dominican Republic

April Yoder. Univ. of Texas, $45 (230p) ISBN 978-1-4773-2676-3

University of New Haven historian Yoder debuts with a fine-grained study of the role baseball played in the Dominican Republic’s pursuit of democracy in the early 1960s. As Dominican players including Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal made a name for themselves on the global stage, they paved the way for future stars like Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer Pedro Martínez, and created “a canvas onto which Dominicans projected their democratic aspirations.” Ironically, dictator Rafael Trujillo’s efforts to use baseball to buttress his message of progress and authority sowed the seeds for the rise of democracy after his assassination in 1961. Yoder tracks the country’s emergence as a baseball powerhouse to the Trujillo regime’s fostering of ties to U.S. baseball and 1955 takeover of an annual professional tournament in the Dominican Republic, and convincingly explains how on-field successes encouraged ordinary Dominicans to imagine “democracy as a model for society that promoted equality of rights and economic opportunity.” Yoder also sheds light on how the country’s first democratically elected president, Juan Bosch, was undermined by “growing anticommunist sentiment.” Enriched by Yoder’s passion for the sport and extensive knowledge of Cold War Latin American politics, this is a detailed study of the links between sport and social change. (Mar.)