Road to the Big Leagues (Rumbo a las Grandes Ligas) (DVD Review)20 May, 2009 By: John Latchem
Other than the United States, the Dominican Republic produces more Major League baseball players than any country. Stars such as David Ortiz, Alfonso Soriano, Jose Reyes, Rafael Furcal, Pedro Martinez, Albert Pujols and Vladimir Guerrero all hail from the Caribbean nation. Their improbable journeys are charted in Road to the Big Leagues (Rumbo a las Grandes Ligas), a documentary no baseball fan should miss.
The program, on DVD from IndiePix at $24.95, does not focus on any particular star (though many are interviewed), but rather on the conditions that persist there. The Dominican is a land where baseball is a way of life, and its greatest stars are worshipped. Kids play in the streets, using caps from water jugs or doll heads as balls, with dreams of one day providing for their impoverished families.
This enlightening documentary tracks the path potential stars take from street ball, to tryouts, to the academies potential professionals attend to improve their strength, develop their skills and learn English.
The documentary also doesn’t shy away from exploring the corruption that runs rampant in the process. Given the pressure to make it to the big leagues, many players lie about their age or identity. One investigator estimates that more than one-third of the documentation is irregular.