Connect with us

Baseball

From the D.R. to the Big Apple: Tigres and Águilas battle in “Titanes del Caribe”

Citi Field hosts Titanes del Caribe this weekend, a 3-game LIDOM series featuring Tigres del Licey and Águilas Cibaeñas - Image Credit: Latino Sports

FLUSHING, NY — We are currently in the second week of November, and New Yorkers are still able go out, and witness professional baseball being played with an experience unlike any other, as “Titanes del Caribe,” takes place this weekend at Citi Field — a three-game exhibition series featuring the two-most winningest franchises in the history of the Professional Baseball League of the Dominican Republic (LIDOM), Tigres del Licey and Águilas Cibaeñas. 

All together, they have combined for 45 LIDOM Championships — the Tigres winning 23 with their first coming in 1951, which was the inaugural year of the Dominican Winter League, while the Águilas have achieved 22, with their first arriving in 1952 — making for the biggest baseball rivalry in the D.R. 

The one-of-a-kind rivalry was deemed “Titanes del Caribe,” (Titans of the Caribbean), in honor of Osvaldo “Ozzie” Virgil, who is the first-ever Dominican-born player to appear in Major League Baseball (debuting in September of 1956 with the New York Giants).

Tigres players kneel together in prayer before taking the field in pregame warmups and batting practice – Image Credit: Latino Sports

Also, a portion of the ticket sales for the three-game set will go directly to the Sports Dream Foundation, a non-profit organization that holds a strong initiative and mindset of supporting youth baseball in the Dominican Republic and United States.

On the idea of a portion of the ticket sales going back to his homeland, and community, Águilas 34-year-old center fielder Juan Lagares, who has played 12 years with the team, and 10 seasons in MLB, said: “I think that it is unbelievable that they want to be grateful. I think that it will open another door for the future, so it’s an amazing idea.”

New York Baseball Ties To Titanes del Caribe 

Other than Lagares, a former New York Met, who spent eight years with the organization — there are several notable names participating in “Titanes del Caribe,” who contain ‘New York Baseball Ties,’ (players/coaches, who were once a member of the NY Yankees or NY Mets). Below is the full-list with additional information such as current position, age, birthplace, and previous time spent with either NY franchise. 

Miguel Andújar in Orioles vs. Yankees during the 2022 season. He won the American League LatinoMVP Rookie Award in 2018, and was recently claimed on waivers by the Oakland Athletics – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Tigres Del Licey

3B Miguel Andújar, 28, of San Cristobal, D.R. (6 years with NYY – 2017 until 2022)

RHP Adonis Medina, 26, of Santo Domingo Centro, D.R. (1 year with NYM – 2022)

RHP Hansel Robles, 33, of Bonao, D.R. (4 years with NYM – 2015 until 2018) 

Águilas Cibaeñas

DH/IF Starlin Castro, 33, of Monte Cristi, D.R. (2 years with NYY – 2016 and 2017)

Manager Tony Peña, 66, Monte Cristi, D.R. (12 years with NYY on coaching staff – 2006 until 2017) 

SS Jonathan Villar, 32, of La Vega, D.R. (1 year with NYM – 2021)

CF Juan Lagares, 34, of Costanza, La Vega, D.R. (8 years with NYM – 2013 until 2020)

“To come back here after all this time, and with my team from the Dominican, it’s a dream,” said Lagares on his return to Citi Field. 

Juan Lagares steps up to the plate in 2019 at Citi Field. He played centerfield for Mets from 2013-2020, then played two seasons with LA Angels from 2020-2022 – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Fun Fact: Lagares is just the third-ever outfielder in Mets franchise history to win a Gold Glove Award — Tommie Aggie in 1970, Carlos Beltrán from 2006-2008, and Lagares in 2014. 

A Pair of Young Guns in the Big Apple

One of the names below already made his presence known across MLB, putting on a show last season with the Cubs — Christopher Morel, current infielder/outfielder of the Águilas. 

Águilas Cibaeñas

IF/OF Christopher Morel, 24, of Santiago de los Caballeros, D.R. – Cubs star-studded talent, totaled 26 HR, and 70 RBI in 2023

Christopher Morel in Cubs-Yankees this past July at Yankee Stadium – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

The other is Orelvis Martinez, an up-and-coming prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays farm system, who is an all-around infielder for the Tigres. Last season in Double-A, and Triple-A across 125 games, he recorded an .836 OPS with 28 HR, and drove in 98 runs. His call up to the Show could come as soon as next April… 

Tigres del Licey

IF Orelvis Martinez, 21, of Santo Domingo, D.R. – 2nd ranked prospect in Blue Jays organization, projected to make his MLB debut in 2024

Ceremonial First Pitch on Friday night

Prior to the series opener on Friday evening, the Vice President of the Dominican Republic Raquel Peña, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Cooperstown Hall of Famer and Dominican baseball icon David Ortiz. 

A special moment all around to kick off a monumental weekend! 

Record-Setting Attendance

The official attendance at Citi Field for Friday night’s game was announced at 25,233 — marking the largest crowd for a game in LIDOM history. Again, a game that took place during mid-November between the two most prolific Dominican baseball franchises — in the most populated city of Dominicans across the United States. 

“I think it’s a step forward for baseball. Because it’s the first time you bring two teams from the Dominican ball to play here,” said manager of the Águilas Tony Peña, following the 3-0 win. 

Furthermore, fans delivered on their passionate energy, blowing into horns and banging on drums continuously, which serenaded throughout the stadium as if it was a FIFA World Cup game. Pure chaos on each and every pitch with thousands standing or sitting on the edge of their seats. Essentially, what baseball is all about.  

“They were ready to show everybody the way they enjoy the game,” Tigres skipper José Offerman mentioned in the postgame when asked about the fans. 

On another note, for those concerned about the weather… The temperature for first pitch shortly after 6:00pm ET, was approximately 52 degrees with mid-heavy winds, and ranged down to the low-40’s as the game went along.

Postgame Concerts

Each game in “Titanes del Caribe,” features a special postgame concert with well-known Dominican musicians and performers — including “Fernando Villalona, ​​Héctor Acosta, the Rosario Brothers, the bachatero Luis Vargas, ‘el Rubio del Acordeón’, ‘Alá Jazá’, ‘Jane 1’, ‘Flow 28’, ‘la Perversa,’ as well as the entertainers DJ Adonis, Alex Sensation, DJ Aneudy and DJ Joe + 20 artists from various music genres” — according to Telemundo 47 Nueva York. 

What’s Next? 

The remaining two games of “Titanes del Caribe,” are set for this Saturday November 11th, and Sunday November 12th, with both games scheduled to start at 1:00pm ET — tickets are still available at Mets.com/Dominican.

Robert Rizzo is a journalist and editor of Latino Sports – Email: RobertRiz994@gmail.com

Follow us on Social Media for updates and exclusive content

Instagram: @latinosportsoficial

Facebook: Latino Sports

Twitter: @latinosports

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Advertisement

Facebook

Latest Article

More in Baseball