Juan Rodríguez Morales photographs from ‘Peloteros’ give us a small window into the baseball obsessed country of the Dominican Republic. Considered the ‘King of sports’, ‘pelota’ as its known, was first introduced into this small Caribbean country in the 19th Century by Cuban immigrants. These days many young Dominican teenagers spend their lives dreaming of playing in the American major leagues and as extraordinary as it sounds over 20% of professional baseball players in the United States come from this small island nation.
However, in these photographs Morales looks not at those pursuing a starry eyed future in America but rather those that have made their way to his native Spain. The Dominican community in Spain is large and, like their fellow countrymen back home, spend many of their Sundays playing the game on improvised baseball fields wherever they can find the space. It’s a day for families and friends to get together, to talk about the home country, to hit the ball and run the bases, to live the Dominican way of life; enjoy the food, drink and music before getting back to the weekly slog. Here’s what Morale has to say about his project:
With these images I have tried to capture the essence of a sport that is actually much more than a sport for Dominicans. I wanted to focus more on intimate moments than in the game scenes. In this way I wanted to show the connection of the sport with the immigrants roots who yearn for their homeland.
For this work it has been very important to use colour. I wanted to capture the colourful uniforms and light of spring and summer days that take us to the Caribbean immediately.