Not My Father's Game: Immigration, Major League Baseball And The Dominican Republic
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Since the 1980's the number of Latino players, specifically, Dominicans, on major and minor league baseball teams has increased significantly. This demographic shift is due, in large part, to Major League Baseball (MLB) teams actively recruiting and developing Dominican players via the Dominican academy system. This thesis focuses on the process through which Dominican minor league baseball players are made into commodities by the global corporation of MLB. I examine the experiences of Dominican players as both baseball commodities and immigrants, comparing the challenges they face acculturating to American life with other Dominican immigrants in the North Texas area. A year of participant observation within a North Texas Dominican community and ethnographic interviews of Dominican immigrants, players and baseball personnel, revealed a complex baseball commodity chain stretching from the Dominican Republic through the minor league system in the U.S. This commodity chain allows teams to refine players' baseball skills, readying them for public consumption, and use players as a means to recruit Latino fans to generate additional revenue. Despite changes implement by MLB to protect immigrant players from labor exploitation, Dominican minor league players remain vulnerable to exploitation as a result of power imbalance and fear of retribution.