I Love Baseball Produces Big Results

09/16/13

There’s more to the worn baseball field than meets the eye. It’s the home of Jean Carlos, Leonardo, and Christopher. This past spring these three rising stars were chosen to play in the Dominican Republic national playoffs for their home province of Barahona. For any player this is a high honor. But for the players in Children of the Nations' I Love Baseball program (ILB), this confirms their non-traditional training program is producing big results. 

 
ILB is not a typical Dominican training program. Whereas many trainers pressure boys to drop out of school or take performance enhancing drugs, ILB coaches demand players put God and education above the sport.
 
All three ILB coaches and twenty-eight players are producing big results.
In 2008 ILB started with one coach and ten players; now all three coaches and twenty-eight players are producing big results.
 
Every day after school, the ILB players head straight to the baseball field with their uniforms. They are required to maintain a “B” average in all their classes to continue training. This motivation makes a huge difference for them in school. But the boys say it’s the time they spend learning about God that is making the biggest difference for them on and off the field. “I was walking a bad road before,” says Dilson, who has been an ILB player for four years. He accepted Christ after joining the ILB program.  
 
ILB coaches work hard to raise young men who will be good leaders
                      ILB coaches work hard to raise young men who will be good leaders on and off the field.
 
“When the players first came, they were behaving terribly, not respecting laws, rules at school or home,” says Maximo Ortiz, ILB’s assistant coach. Now parents tell him how much their sons have changed, and that’s what makes Maximo proud. ILB’s USA coordinator, Ben Holman, says, “There’s no question that God is using baseball as a tool to transform lives in the Dominican Republic.”  
 
If you’re Dominican, baseball is in your blood,” says Ruddy Suero
“If you’re Dominican, baseball is in your blood,” says Ruddy Suero, ILB’s in-country director. Dominicans are known around the world for their baseball skills.
 
But in a country where baseball is the national pastime and a major industry, ILB players won’t be recognized for their belief in God or emphasis on education. Many Dominican boys still believe baseball is their ticket out of poverty, and will train at the expense of attending school. But the reality is that only two percent of all players in the country are signed by Major League Baseball (MLB) teams. “It’s unreal how many boys are dropping out of school, and the big reason is baseball,” says Ben. All too often, eighteen-year-old boys who don't make it are left with no education to fall back on. 
 
ILB is an answer to this problem, but, in order for boys to want to train with the club, they  must prove they can produce good baseball players. “That’s the big carrot.” says Ben. After seeing ILB’s success on the national level, parents are asking Maximo if their sons can join the team.
 
Since the playoffs, MLB scouts have been watching Jean Carlos, Leonardo, and Christopher. And within the last several years, two other ILB players were signed by the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles. “Other teams don’t want to play us because we’re the best,” says Dilson with a smile. He’s been asked to play for other teams, but he always says no. His dream is to be signed by an MLB team but in the meantime he’s studying hard so he can have a career as an engineer or an architect to fall back on.  
 
ILB is raising funds to purchase land and build a baseball field
ILB is raising funds to purchase land and build a baseball field (they currently rent space) and training headquarters to provide even better training for more young men.
 
Right now there are twenty-eight players in the ILB program, and each one is sponsored by someone like you. Sponsorship provides baseball equipment, food, school expenses, and transportation costs. But more than that, it gives players hope and a bright future. “I Love Baseball is a strategy with the dreams of our Lord Jesus Christ,” says Ruddy.
 
Join the team! Sponsor a baseball player today!