North Coast September 12, 2020 | 8:00 am

Dominican baseball legend Tony Fernandez Commemorated at The Pitch in Sosua.

Tony Fernandez poster held by Hugh Baver (behind speaker) and Jose Francisco Perez Colon. Mayor Willy Olivences speaking

Dominican baseball legend Tony Fernandez Commemoration Ceremony at the Pitch paves the way for other youth players in Sosúa to follow in his footsteps

 

Renn Loren

Sosúa

On Friday, August 28th, the culmination of one man’s vision and dreams came to fruition as a little slice of history took place at the baseball field in the town of Sosúa.

Photo: Rick Johnston North Coast Drones DR

 

In one of the most significant events ever to have taken place at the ballpark, three mayors from Puerto Plata, Cabarete, and Sosúa were there to speak, listen, and support. Also in attendance were other dignitaries, business owners, youth, sports, and helping organizations and associations for a ceremony commemorating the career and personal life of the legendary Tony Fernandez.

Kicking off the late afternoon program was José Francisco Perez Colon, a talented young violinist from San Cristobal. Colon performed the National Anthems of the Dominican Republic, the United States, and Israel. 

Violinist Jose Francisco Perez Colon opens the ceremony

Link to video of The Pitch Dedication pre-Ceremony Registration and Seating

That each speaker spoke as much or more about Tony, the person rather than merely Tony, the baseball player speaks volumes about the impact Fernandez had as a human being. Fernandez remained eminently humble throughout his life and continued helping people long after hanging up his baseball glove and cleats. After his untimely death earlier this year in March, the Fernandez family had permitted Hugh Baver to associate the Fernandez name with The Pitch batting cage in Sosúa.  

 

Published event agenda with Speaker list and presentation order

And so one-hundred-plus people from Sosúa and other towns gathered in the name of kids, the future, hope, and Tony Fernandez as The Pitch is named in his honor. The batting cage will give the youth of not only Sosúa but other towns and regions of the DR a place to sharpen and hone their skills on the way to achieving their dreams of major league baseball success.

Sosúa mayor Willy Olivences gave a powerful speech about his vision for improvements around the town and the significant benefit the batting cage facility provides. He also spoke of the additional equipment, gear, training, and work that Baver delivers developing and promoting baseball and the community’s players. The majority of initial funds for the program came from Baver’s pocket personally.

Speech by Sosúa Mayor Wilfredo “Willy” Olivences

Baver introducing Soterio Ramirez at the podium

 

Thankfully, the other sponsors mentioned here and speaking at the commemoration event have come on board and continue to join in the spirit of helping the kids and community.

Other speakers who spoke and offered their support were Mayra J. Ramón, the Director of Public Relations for Brugal Rum Company, Puerto Plata, and pastor Dio Astacio, the office director between President Luis Abinader and the Evangelical Churches, Santo Domingo.

Pastor Dio Astacio

Confirming the partnership with Pastor Dio Astacio. Message translated by Pastor Juan Santos Lugo from Las Palmares Church in Santo Domingo.

 

Puerto Plata Vice Mayor Kenya de Leon de Desangles and her regional teammates from SILAP present a bag of complete MLB protective catcher equipment, batting helmets, and a case of new official MLB baseballs sent from the New York Mets to a happy and grateful Hugh Baver, Director of The Pitch.

 

The Pitch is a strictly non-profit organization devoted to helping Sosúa and Dominican Republic’s future players. The facility not only helps the youth of various regions as well as Sosúa but also increases the tourist appeal and family-friendliness of the town.

Presentation of young Sosúa ballplayers and members of the 2019 Dominican Little League Championship team who hail from the North Coast

 

The Pitch provides the batting cage and baseball gloves, cleats, bats, and other equipment needed for the game. There are also English as a Second Language (ESL) courses planned at the site. The local school’s IIC teacher’s first ESL class will be at “the Tony Fernandez Pitch batting cage facility.”

Pitch day-to-day Operations Manager Melvin “Bodega” Castillo proudly wears The Pitch t-shirt. Coach Bodega is a local treasure and Baver’s invaluable assistant at the facility

COVID-19 protocol was strictly observed

Victor Perez, Director of Intercultural Institute del Caribe, announcing an intent to teach English classes at The Pitch and offer a year-long scholarship to their school here in Sosúa 

Baver Introducing Cabarete CESTUR Police Captain Jean Carlos Matos Ramirez for his speech on working towards a Plan B of choosing a professional career after baseball

Baver’s facility offers all of this at no cost to the kids. But there are operational, maintenance, upkeep, administrative, shipping, and distribution costs: it takes donations and charity from community members and beyond to make that happen and keep it happening.

If you are interested in contributing, please visit GlobalGiving:

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/the-pitch-batting-cage-in-sosua/

Link to The Pitch Maquina de Batear on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/thepitchbattingcages/

Links to videos of the event

Speech by Sosúa Mayor Wilfredo “Willy” Olivences

Speech by Dio Astacio with special welcome and support message from President Luis Abinader 

Speech by Soterio Ramirez, former Dominican government Vice Minister of Sports and Recreation and personal friend of Tony Fernandez

Speech from Mayra Ramón from Brugal Rum on behalf of Lights and Sirens International and The Pitch

Video of Introduction of Sosúa youth baseball players