Baseball in Aruba
One of my more stupid pastimes while flying on business is to look for baseball diamonds fromthe air. Given the grass, infield dirt, 3/4-diamond with gently curved fence and bleachers, a
ballfield is unusually easy to spot while on approach or departure from a major city. I’m
regularly impressed by the number and quality of baseball diamonds across the country.
The family and I spent last week in Aruba, enjoying some swimming, snorkeling, boat
rides and downtime. Much to my delight, I counted (and visited) no fewer than half a dozen
Dunkin’ Donuts shops between the Queen Beatrix airport and the high rise hotel zone. There’s
something infinitely comforting about being able to get your favorite coffee, in both flavor and
serving qualities, even when you’re 2,000 miles south of home. It’s not something I can say for
flying west, because the Dunkies density drops once you pass Chicago. Quiz question for
the day: are there more Dunkin’ Donuts or baseball diamonds on the west coast of Aruba?
Based on my cursory inspection, performed while trying to navigate a one-lane, unmarked road
en route to a beach at the northern point of Aruba, baseball beats beans. Many of the fields
were completely dirt-covered, grass being a precious commodity on an island that is literally
a desert in the middle of the ocean. I was pleasantly
surprised. Of all of the American exports to reach the country – Dunkies, Subway, *******,
Pizza Hut, hotel chains, rental car companies – baseball is the one that has at least delivered
Sidney Ponson, pitcher for the Orioles, is a native of the small town of Noord, just off the
western shore of Aruba.
Ponson is the third Aruban to make it to the show. Put that in context — Aruba is slightly
larger than Washington, DC and has a population of just about 72,000 people. The beauty
of baseball is that you can play with a ball and some semblance of gloves, bats and bases;
if you can scratch out a diamond you’re in business. And as Ponson shows, it’s truly an
international game today.