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The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macoris (Englisch) MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Ungekürzte Ausgabe

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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Mark Kurlansky is the New York Times-bestselling author of many books, including The Food of a Younger Land; Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World; Salt: A World History; 1968: The Year That Rocked the World; and The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe.

Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

Part One


La caña triturada, como una lluvia de oro,
en chorros continuados, baja, desciende y va
allí donde la espera la cuba, para hacerla
miel, dulce miel, panal.

El sol que la atraviesa con rayo matutino,
de través, como un puro y muy terso cristal,
sugestiona, persuade, que se ha liquefacto
la misma luz solar.

The ground-up cane, ring of gold,
continuously spurting, comes down, goes down and goes
where the bucket awaits it, to make of it
Honey, sweet honey, honeycomb.

The sun shining straight through it with morning rays,
crosswise, like a pure, terse glasswork,
suggesting, persuading, that what has liquefied
Is the very light of the sun.

—Gastón Fernando Deligne, “Del Trapiche”

Chapter One

Like the Trace of a Kiss

It is easier to describe San Pedro de Macorís, and the unique history and cultural blend that formed it, than it is to explain the country in which it was formed. There is a strange ambivalence to the Dominican Republic. Pedro Mir, the Dominican poet laureate from San Pedro de Macorís, described his country as:
Like the trace of a kiss on a spinster
Or the daylight on rooftops.

Of the nations called the large-island Caribbean, the ones that by size should dominate the region, the Dominican Republic is the one with the least impact and the least distinct culture. The others all have poetic names: Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad. The Dominican Republic has a name that seems a temporary offering until a better idea comes along. Even Puerto Rico, which has the odd history of having never been an independent nation, seems to have a stronger sense of itself. The Dominican Republic, one of the first independent nations in the Caribbean, seems to struggle with its identity.

It is a country that has usually been out of step with history, left behind in the Spanish empire, left behind in the independent Caribbean; even on its own island, it is the country that isn’t Haiti. Almost as poor as Haiti but not quite, neither as tragic nor as romantic, the Dominican Republic missed the first sugar boom in the eighteenth century and came late to the second one in the nineteenth century. As with baseball, its sugar industry ran behind those of Cuba and Puerto Rico, and the Dominicans had trouble positioning themselves.

Dominicans speak Spanish, but it is not a very Spanish place. It is neither as Latino nor as African as Cuba. Dominicans have developed distinctive and celebrated music forms, but they are not as influential nor as recognized as the many forms of Cuban music or Jamaican reggae or Trinidadian calypso. It does not have the strong tradition of visual arts and folk crafts for which Haiti is known, and in fact Dominican tourist shops are filled with Haitian paintings and crafts and bad knockoffs of them. They also sell tourists Cuban cigars because Dominican ones, some of which are very good, don’t have the same cachet.

The Dominican Republic is nothing like its neighbor across the island, Haiti, which is a far more African place. But except for the Spanish language and baseball, it doesn’t very much resemble Cuba or Puerto Rico, either. Despite a long and mostly painful relationship with the United States and the fact that money shipped home by Dominicans in the United States is a major prong of the struggling economy—the third poorest in the Americas—the Dominican Republic has not become very Americanized, either. Major League Baseball is acutely aware that the Dominican ballplayers sent to the U.S. are lost in a very strange and different land.

It is tempting to say that baseball defines it, but it got the game from Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Americans. Dominicans have excelled in the game, and in the last few decades baseball has at last become something at which Dominicans dominate—at last, something they can be known for—and this is a source of pride. From 1956—when Ozzie Virgil, from the northern Dominican town of Monte Cristi, became an infielder for the New York Giants—through 2008, 471 Dominicans played in at least one major-league game. One in six of them have come from the relatively small town of San Pedro de Macorís.

But even this celebrated accomplishment may be slightly tarnished by the fact that Cubans dominate Caribbean play and always have. It is U.S. law, which forced Cuban ballplayers to defect if they wanted to play in the U.S., that gave Dominicans their opening in baseball. In February 1962, when the United States imposed an embargo on Cuba, only six Dominicans had ever played in the major leagues.

Despite all its murky ambiguity, the Dominican Republic really is a distinct country with its own society and culture and way of doing things unlike anyplace else. This has made Dominicans love their homeland and yearn for it when they are away. It is just not very easy to articulate what it is. In the past twenty years there has been a marked growth in tourism, but it has been a style of tourism that spirits away visitors to walled-off resorts, safely away from the Dominican reality. The impression these visitors are left with is so false that the country may be even less known than it was when almost no one came.

There are Dominican characteristics. Not surprisingly, given the violent history of the Dominican Republic, there is violence in everyday Dominican life. There is domestic violence, but also the recent decline in the economy has been accompanied by a rise in street crime, especially by young men. The mayor of San Pedro, Ramón Antonio Echavaría, said street crime was the biggest problem facing his town. But also national human rights groups complained that in 2008 alone almost 500 people, most of them under the age of thirty-five, were shot and killed on the street by police, who admit to only 343 of the killings.

Despite all this, Dominicans have a sweetness to their demeanor. They smile and embrace one another far more easily than most people. Americans, trying to instill American ideas of sportsmanship, tell ballplayers in Dominican youth programs to come out and shake their opponents’ hands after a game. They come out to the field and for a brief moment begin the unnatural hand-shaking ritual but quickly begin hugging each other. That is what Dominicans do.

Dominican men are infamous for sexism. Yet women are common— though far from dominant—in the professions, especially as doctors. The image of the strong Dominican woman is celebrated—notably the three Mirabal sisters, upper-class women who resisted the Trujillo dictatorship and were murdered on their way home from visiting their husbands in prison. In fact, the founding legend of Dominican resistance was a Taino woman named Anacaona. After her husband was killed by the Spanish, Anacaona became leader of all the Tainos and was captured by the Spanish while trying to negotiate peace. The Spanish governor, Nicolás de Ovando, had her hanged.

Mothers are revered, and it is not unusual for a man to decide to use his mother’s last name rather than the traditional father’s name. In Spanish names, there are two last names, the father’s and then the mother’s. Although the father’s name is in the middle rather than the end, by tradition it is the one that is used. But Dominicans often choose their mothers’ names. An example is the slugger Ricardo Jacobo Carty. Jacobo was his father’s name and Carty his mother’s, and by Spanish tradition he would have been called either the full name or Ricardo Jacobo, but instead he always called himself Rico Carty, after his mother. There are many other... -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe.


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