Softbol Dominicano -August 2019

by: Brian Bushard

photography by: Nicole Harnishfeger

Robinson Vasquez straps on a black catcher’s mask and chest protector, picks up his catcher’s mitt and makes his way behind home plate. He is thinking about more than the 60-mph softball about to come at him, or about handling his pitcher. He is also thinking about his home town in the Dominican Republic, the baseball he played there, and the culture he left behind when he moved to Nantucket three years ago.

Vasquez grew up playing baseball in Santiago de los Caballeros, a city on the north side of the DR where, he said, everybody was in love with good food, family and baseball. Naturally, he developed a passion for the sport at a young age.

The games are fast-paced, but not competitive. Each team mingles on the sidelines, sharing food and listening to music.

More than 20 years later, working as a landscaper with Ernst Land Design on Nantucket, he found a way to rekindle that childhood passion. He joined a men’s league of Dominican fast-pitch softball players that meets every Sunday from May to September at a diamond in Tom Nevers. It’s called the ACK Dominican League.

“All of us played baseball or softball back home, so when we come here for the summer to work and stay here, and when we work all week, we might as well come play softball on the weekend,” he said.

“It’s a pretty big journey from the Dominican Republic to this country, so each day we have something, like sports, to connect back to our home, it’s important.”

He started playing in the league three years ago. Vasquez is both the catcher and the manager of 16 Dominican players on one of three teams in the league. His is called the red team. Every player in the league was born in the Dominican Republic.

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