Leave Things Better Than You Find Them

“I grew up poor, just like you,” explains Albert Pujols. “No matter how successful you may become in baseball or in life, you can never forget where you came from. Never be ashamed of being poor; never forget that Batey Aleman is your home. You will always have a responsibility to your God, your family and your home.”

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This is About God

So many people erroneously think that because the poor live such difficult lives, marred by illness, hunger, gangs and all other symptoms of poverty, that they are somehow used to death around them. I am here to tell you, a parent is a parent in all cultures and classes and that loving bond is not easily broken. Heartache may surround them, but just like us, they still don’t expect to be a casualty. It’s nothing they can ever get used to.

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Life in the Southeastern Region of the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is divided into 31 provinces. Eight are in the southeastern region of the country: Distrito Nacional, El Seibo, Hato Mayor, La Altagracia, La Romana, Monte Plata, San Pedro de Macoris and Santo Domingo.

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United by Baseball, United Through Christ

I found out today that the word “batey” is Creole for a shanty town. I find it hard to imagine feeling good about wearing the word “batey” on a uniform. I would have difficulty feeling a sense of belonging with that polarizing label sewn across my chest.

For these kids, that does not matter. Where they come from is more than a degrading label. Where they come from is their family, their friends and their God, who does not distinguish between Batey Aleman and Beverly Hills.

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If You Build it, He Will Come

Yesterday was Father’s Day in the Dominican Republic. It’s no coincidence that the day we handed out uniforms to these young men and boys is a day that represents the absence of a father for many of them.

When we arrived at the batey, we assembled all of the parents for a meeting. The assembly was mostly mothers and the lack of fathers present at the meeting was very noticeable.

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Bringing Baseball to the Batey: Rained Out

Yesterday, I made it into Batey Aleman, during a complete rainout. Tropical Depression Bonnie paid a visit and the rains haven’t ceased.

Right before going to the batey, I stopped at the Compassion Dominican Republic office and saw the 87 boxes of Rawlings and Nike equipment lining n entire wall three feet deep. I also learned quite a bit about Albert Pujols involvement in all the details of this league, including the discussions he had with Nike and Rawlings about what the team would look like.

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Bringing Baseball to the Batey

A batey (buh-TAY) is a sugar plantation in the Dominican that mostly uses the labor of Haitians. Most bateys are defunct, but in some case the Haitians have been permitted to stay on the land, living in slums with little clean water or any means of support.

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