DALLAS, Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Tonight's "Dan Rather Reports" focuses on the Dominican Republic, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. There once was a time when this country's fertile soil was known for producing coffee and sugar. Now the fields are growing a much more lucrative export...baseball players.
More Major League Baseball players come from the Dominican Republic than any other country outside of the United States and baseball in the Dominican Republic is not a children's game, it's a business. Almost every Major League Baseball club has a training academy in the D.R. - and the competition among literally thousands of boys to land a spot in one of these programs is fierce.
So fierce in fact, that some children turn to an independent trainer to get a leg up on the others in the race to win a spot on an MLB roster. Dominican children promise these trainers a percentage of any major league salary they would earn, in exchange for food, lodging and training. While some of these trainers do have the best interest of these teens at heart, there are others who have come under scrutiny. Some trainers have been associated with prospects who have been caught using performance enhancing drugs and lying about their ages and identities to appear younger than they actually are. Some trainers have also been caught colluding with club officials for kickbacks and signing bonuses.
In the Dominican Republic, they call these corrupt trainers, "buscones."
But Major League Baseball is trying to clean up this problem, and the League has taken matters into its own hands, sending one of its top men to the Dominican Republic to try and reform procedures for training and drafting young players.
Sandy Alderson currently oversees MLB operations in the Dominican Republic. When speaking about his role in the D.R. Alderson told Rather, "The abuses are so extensive that they have to be addressed." Alderson added, "Nobody signs at age 16 in the United States. A player's considered young at 18 or 19. But in The Dominican Republic, if you're 18 or 19, you're finished if you haven't signed a contract."
How do Alderson and Major League Baseball plan to protect these young players? Watch tonight on "Dan Rather Reports."
"Dan Rather Reports: Field of Broken Dreams" airs TONIGHT on HDNet at 8:00 p.m. ET with an encore presentation at 11:00 p.m. ET.
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