The workforce of Major League Baseball (MLB) has changed considerably over the last half century. While the United States was once the sole provider of MLB talent, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Japan have over the past 25 years provided new talent on a more global scale. This global talent search has led to the migration of talented players away from their countries of origin and to MLB academies for talent development in the Dominican Republic. While the process of the discovery of the population of talented players and academy creation has been explored in both popular and academic literature, an analysis of the pre-migration processes experienced by teams and players in these academies had yet to be undertaken. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation was to examine a MLB academy in the Dominican Republic to determine their elements of the talent selection process for players entering the professional baseball system, understand the reasons these players choose to pursue a MLB career, and identify what difficulties players believed and administrators anticipated would be challenging for them upon player migration.A case study method was used where field notes and in-depth interviews were conducted with players and administrators. In addition to these interviews, participant-observations were carried out and organizational documents were utilized to examine the talent identification and athlete migration questions of interest. This dissertation presents three papers that provide a greater understanding of the new global workforce in baseball. The first paper examined the methods used in identifying talented Dominican Republic baseball players. This analysis of talent identification methods also included ways an MLB team modified or altered their methods to address differences between the United States and the Dominican. A theoretical framework including globalization, in the form of glocalization, and talent identification, comprising the dimensions of physical skills, technical skills, cognitive-perceptual skills, and personal qualities, was used. The study revealed that the MLB team under study modified their talent identification processes and separated the four talent identification categories into teachable and natural abilities.The second paper identified the reasons Dominican baseball players chose to pursue a career in MLB. Previous research solely focused on post-migration analysis and did examine athletes who were in the pre-migration phase. The framework used in this analysis included the typologies of mercenaries, ambitionists, and nomadic cosmopolitans. The findings showed that, in addition to these three typologies, the typologies of altruists and lost boys were outlined as new motivations for players seeking to migrate. Additionally, it was suggested that the previously defined typology of settlers was largely post-hoc conventions due to the uncertain nature of a player's potential ability.The third paper investigated perceived issues that Dominican players would encounter during their initial migration period to the United States. The framework guiding this evaluation was based on previous research with elite level international athletes and focused on the three core areas of 1) challenges in a new community; 2) challenges in a new culture, but outside of sport, and; 3) challenges in sport contexts. The challenges expected to be encountered were explained by both the players who would be migrating and the baseball administrators who have either witnessed and/or experienced this migration themselves. The players and administrators each identified similar issues (e.g., cultural adjustments, language barrier); however, each group also identified and stressed different issues (e.g., players focused on the language barrier and administrators focused on the cultural adjustment). Issues that administrators may not have been concerned with might negatively impact players' performances and experiences.The implications of the talent identification research lies with the difficulties in creating singular models of talent identification and how those difficulties are exacerbated when attempting to implement these models on different populations. In regards to athlete migration, the current research supported previous research, but also uncovered two new typologies, altruist and lost boys, to provide a new direction for future research. Finally, the migration difficulties anticipated by both the players and administrators were similar and could serve as an instrument for team administrators seeking to adequately prepare Dominican players for migration to the United States as well as aid in program development that can help players manage new stressors of playing in the United States.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2013. Major: Kinesiology. Advisor: Lisa A. Kihl. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 221 pages.
Campisi, Charles John.
Dominican Republic baseball: a case study of a Major League Baseball team's academy.
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