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The Gift of Baseball

Baseball is king in the Dominican Republic, so when the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation created a school for the impoverished children around the Chateau de la Fuente tobacco plantation it was only natural to include a baseball field. But baseball fields cost money, and there was only so much to go around, and other, more pressing projects meant the field and the children’s fun had to wait.

I visited the Foundation two years ago, along with other members of the magazine, including editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken. When he heard the plan for the field, he offered to help. Thanks to a generous donation by Marvin, the field is now complete.

I get to the Dominican Republic more often than Marvin does, so on my last trip there a few weeks ago I shot a little video of the field, known as Cigar Aficionado Stadium. Carlos Fuente Jr. was there to add a little play-by-play. Take a look.

I visit the Foundation about every year, and I’m always impressed with the charity from the Fuentes, the Newmans and cigar lovers from around the world, including Marvin, who have contributed to its success. The children are well fed, happy, smiling. They have hope, something that we in the United States take for granted, but that children in the third world often have to go without. Before the school was created, children in Caribe and the surrounding towns in the Bonao region often had little chance of getting an education. Clean drinking water was a luxury, not a commodity. And the notion of playing baseball on a beautiful, well-kept field, with bleachers and a real scoreboard and dugouts that look like something from a pro baseball team was mere fantasy.

As a father, I can’t help but get a little choked up when I see these children sitting in class, learning about the world. On this recent visit, while driving near the school, I saw two barefoot boys playing in the dirt alongside the bumpy road with a small car. That may have been their only toy in the world. I thought of my own son, who has too many toys, and I felt a little bit guilty, but extremely, extremely grateful for what I have, and what I’m able to give to him.

We can’t all donate a beautiful baseball field to children in need, but we can all give a little bit. Read up on the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation, and consider giving to make a child’s life just a little bit easier.
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