Entrena President, John Seibel, hopes the company is seen as a leader in education and community initiatives, and through involvement with the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame, it is recognized for its efforts in supporting and enhancing the heritage in the untold history of the Latino Baseball Player.
The whole sensation of baseball in the Dominican Republic is hard to describe-and is incomparable-even among the world’s most die-hard fans. “Baseball is the US’s pastime but it’s a part of the culture and language here. It’s a part of being a Dominican,” Entrena President, John Seibel, stated. According to him, the Dominican Republic is a standout in the international community because the cultural value of the sport is inextricably linked to the country’s branding.
In recent weeks, the country was especially lit with euphoria as MLB’s most famous players traveled to DR for “Oscar Week” of the Latino baseball community. On February 7th, the crème de la crème of the industry gathered for the 7th annual Latino Baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies. The festivities were held in La Ramona, at one of the country’s most upscale, exclusive resorts-Casa de Campo.
Latino Baseball Hall of Fame
Seibel, who serves as the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame’s EVP of Operations, was especially delighted to see the players accept the honors but under the pretense of humility, gratitude and appreciation for the Latino community’s un-relentless support throughout their careers. He emceed the daytime Welcoming Event and sat at the Honors Table during the evening Induction Ceremony. At the table, he was joined by Rob Manfred, MLB Commissioner, Jeff Idelson, President of the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, Jose Blandon, Mayor of Panama and José Rodríguez, Minister of Culture of the Dominican Republic.
Seibel has worked in the baseball industry since 1994 and helped MLB organizations such as the Oakland A’s, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres, get established. A lifetime baseball fan, he found it personally rewarding to see Latino Players take front seat and be recognized for their contributions and achievements in the industry.
Pedro Martinez, baseball living legend and one of DR’s own, led the Induction Class of the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame. He was joined by Luis Gonzalez of Cuba, Roberto Kelly of Panama, Carlos Delgado from Puerto Rico, Ozzie Guillen of Venezuela, Nomar Garciaparra from Mexico. As Martinez crossed the stage to receive his honor, he received a standing ovation from the audience in the Altos de Chavón Amphitheater at Casa and chants “Pedro, Pedro, Pedro.”
The crowd has much to celebrate-he was recently inducted in the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and a look at his resume will show you he’s played for some of MLB’s most successful franchises including the Los Angeles Dogers, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and Red Sox.
Baseball Culture in DR
He has personal recollections of some of the players humble beginnings. In the early days of Entrena, he taught English as a Second Language classes at baseball academies and coordinated life skills training and education camps.
Seibel has fond memories of Nelson Cruz, a three-time MLB All Star and recipient of this year’s Latino de Oro Award. He once shined shoes and worked in a tractor factory in DR, but “hasn’t changed and is still humble,” according to Seibel. He was a nice kid with a good education and good upbringing.
He’s been involved in the formation of the baseball industry since nearly the beginning of its conception in DR. General Managers of MLB Franchises sought his expertise in navigating a different culture, industry and legal environment. Almost mirroring the Wild Wild West-there was a ripe environment of talent-but on the business side there was much lacking.
“Most the players have hidden forces hitting them head on.” There was no guide to investment in talent development or in-country economic development. That’s where Seibel came in, as a former Peace Corps volunteer, he utilized his in-country knowledge of the culture and economic landscape to advance the industry. From the baseball academy and education, to players’ training and business ethics, he saw what many don’t see-the whole picture.
He says little by little he’s seen the industry improve with positive community relations, less falsification of documentation and correct management of bonus checks.
After decades of involvement in the baseball industry. Seibel hopes Entrena is visualized as one of the pioneers in helping to bring down and consolidate the industry in DR. Involvement in which illustrates the Entrena’s founding mission of bridging cultures together. Three decades later, this philosophy still guides the organization in its function.