Dominican Republic Field Lights
As I reflect upon my fours years of high school, my senior year has presented the most challenges and forced me to make important decisions, which will have a long lasting impact on my life now and well into the future. In the course of this past year, I have made physical moves from Berkeley to the Dominican Republic and finally back home to Napa, where I began my primary education 13 years ago at Carneros Elementary School. During the summer time I spent in the Dominican Republic, I became passionate about the condition of the baseball fields and the “life after baseball” for the young players whom I spent so much time with. I found myself, a young Tito Fuentes the third, in the same country where professional baseball began for my grandfather 57 years prior, when he was signed by the Giants out of Cuba. I didn’t realize it until I began my senior year at Napa, that what I was doing there and had planned to continue would be formally organized as the result of having to complete a senior project.
At 8 years old I began traveling with my family to the Dominican Republic to vacation with our family there and to get the best instructional baseball training in several Dominican academies during summers. As a young person, the field conditions never stood out to me or seemed unusual. I would be playing on unmanicured and unhealthy fields for 8 eight years before I realized how bad they really were. After each summer, I would go back home to California and play on some of the best fields out here. The most recent summer I spent in the Dominican Republic was different from the past summers. I spent 3 months in a little town called Boca Chica. It is located approximately 15 miles from the capital called Santo Domingo. The dorm I lived in was literally 3 minutes walking distance to the baseball field, 3 minutes to the gymnasium where I worked out each day, and 5 minutes running distance to the beach for our morning running program. Each week day I worked out with 12 kids my age for no less than 8 hours per day. It was intense! But, I loved it. The two things I wished was different was the condition of the fields and implementing a minimum education requirement to participate in the academies. I knew then what I needed to advocate for.
My senior project is just the start of a life long goal. I have created the “Dominican Project” which is a project that will be completed in phases. The first phase has included the identification of one Dominican field to be completely renovated. This includes installation of a bullpen and batting cage, building fan/spectator seating areas, adding dirt to the infield, pitching rubber, level and replace outfield grass, and install lights. This project entailed raising funds to complete the project. For the first phase of the project, I was able to raise $2,000.00 so far. We were able to complete the bullpen and the batting cages. Currently we are in the next phase of infield dirt, leveling the outfield and replacing the grass which will take another $5,000.00 The biggest challenge will be raising $25,000.00 for the lights. For the light project, I have created a “Go Fund Me” crowd funder on the Tito Fuentes Baseball website. I project this will be completed by summer 2018.
This project has made me realize how fortunate I have been to be raised in California. Although baseball field time in California are continuously fought over, our fields are kept pretty pristine. This is done through community and city funding. In a third world country such as DR, there is no such thing. I plan to continue working with my father and fellow baseballers to continue improving one Dominican field at a time. As I work through this project I will begin the next phase as I build support and the needed network required to be impactful. This next phase includes the implementation of an educational system that works for baseball players to ensure they have a sustainable life --- after baseball.
Thank you for reviewing my project. The next time you happen to be watching a professional Major League baseball game, I urge you to take note of how many Dominican ballplayers play here in the United States and how they got their start playing on the poor quality fields I described in my project.
Tito Fuentes III