“Through these doors pass the best players” reads the sign above the locker room door leading to the baseball fields of the New York Mets baseball academy in the Dominican Republic. On Wednesday, December 10, 2008, following fall term finals, the Dartmouth baseball team arrived in Santo Domingo for 6 games against the academy teams of the Mets and the San Diego Padres.

Several major league teams have baseball academies in the Dominican Republic. The best young Dominican players live at the academies, practice, play against other academies, and attend classes. The clubs hope the academy will develop major league players. The players hope to join hundreds of others from this baseball crazed country who have made it to the big leagues.

Dave Howard ’82, executive vice president of baseball operations for the Mets, arranged for Dartmouth’s visit to the Mets’ first-class new facility in Boca Chica. The complex includes 2 full fields, a half-field, batting cages, mounds, locker rooms, a training room, a weight room, classrooms and dormitories.

Former minor leaguer Rafael Landestoy, the director of the academy, welcomed the Big Green when they arrived this morning for a practice session. Dartmouth will play the Mets on Friday and Saturday. Also on tap Friday night is a trip to Santo Domingo to watch a game in the Dominican Winter League

On Sunday, Dartmouth heads to the San Diego Padres academy for the third game of the tour. Sandy Alderson ’69, Chief Executive Officer of San Diego, made the arrangements for Dartmouth’s visit to the Padres. The Big Green return to Boca Chica next week for 3 more games against the Mets.

This is Dartmouth’s baseball’s first international tour. Jack Monahan, the senior captain from Overland Park, Kansas, said the experience will put the Big Green further ahead when they begin practice in February. “It is not just a chance to play baseball but to be part of a culture where baseball means so much to people.”

The trip has been funded through team fundraising activities and private donations during the past four years. The NCAA allows each varsity team to travel internationally once every four years and Ivy League rules prohibit the use of institutional budget funds for this purpose.