Summer adventure: Foxes brothers take baseball Dominican Republic tour

September 2018 Posted in People, School, Sports, Travel
kramer-portrait

Silverton High brothers Riley Kramer, left, and brother Kyle, spent a week in the Dominican Republic last month, playing baseball, donating gear and participating in clinics. James Day 

By James Day

Riley and Kyle Kramer had a bit of a different summer vacation. The Silverton brothers played baseball, yes, but they did it 3,500 miles away in the Dominican Republic.

Riley, who just started his senior year at Silverton High, traveled to the Caribbean with Northwest Diamond Sports of Tualatin. Brother Kyle, a sophomore, and mom Tara, owner of Ri-Ky Roofing and Sheet Metal (yes, it is named for her sons) came along for the ride.

Kyle wound up playing also, but we’re getting a bit ahead of the story here.

One of the goals of the goodwill trip was to offer some stateside equipment to kids in the Dominican Republic who didn’t have much. So Riley and his teammates filled a shipping container with helmets, bats, gloves, shoes and other gear and brought it with them.

The Dominican Republic is baseball crazy. The country is second only to the United States in terms of Major League Baseball players. Three Dominicans are in the Hall of Fame, Juan Marichal, Vladimir Guerrero and Pedro Martinez, and Albert Pujols is a lock to join them. Two current Seattle Mariners stars, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz are Dominican Republic natives. Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz…
it’s quite a list.

“Everywhere you went there were baseball fields,” Riley told Our Town. “Everyone plays. It’s very cool. They all have fun with the game.”

Riley’s team played doubleheaders for three consecutive days during the Aug. 10-16 trip, but camaraderie was a bigger goal than victories.

“They play for fun,” Riley said. “We played 6-inning games and it didn’t matter if you won or lost. And if the game was tied you just stopped there.”

Kyle, meanwhile, was drafted onto one of the younger teams and took part despite only bringing his glove. He borrowed shoes and pants from his brother and pitched in a T-shirt because he didn’t have a jersey. Kyle also took part in the clinics the visitors put on.

“They don’t have much stuff and we need to appreciate what we all get,” Kyle said.

In one game, Riley said, the opponents only had three helmets and two bats.
One of the bats was broken by the first batter… and they kept using it.

Some of the facilities are first-rate. Major league clubs have established recruiting centers there. Riley played at the Toronto Blue Jays compound and Kyle got a shot at the Philadelphia Phillies’ facility. Riley said he saw some Dominican prospects “throwing 94 mph and looking ready to sign MLB contracts.”

But… “some of the fields didn’t have pitching mounds or even a home plate,” Kyle said. “They just used chalk.”

The weather proved a challenge for the Oregon guests.

“The humidity… it was crazy,” Riley said. “At one point I had to lie down in the shade. I was dying.”

Everyone played multiple positions, with Riley, a left-hander, also spending time behind the plate… where he wound up covered in dirt and chalk.”

“It was kind of crazy to see how some of the kids lived,” Riley said. “Some of the little villages were pretty rundown. But everyone was so nice. People were beyond nice. Always happy.”

Kyle agreed.

“They were really friendly. Always talking to us. But they were really hoping we would give them our Oakleys (sunglasses).”

Seems like there was a lot of giving
going on.

Postscript: Riley and Kyle are now in the full swing of football season. Both play wide receiver and defensive back, with Riley on the varsity and Kyle with
the JVs.

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