SPORTS

Vitilla, Dominican stickball using broomstick and bottle cap, starts hitting in U.S.

Grab a broomstick, a bottle cap, and play ball!

 

It's often said that the Dominican Republic's greatest export is baseball.

Some of the world's greatest players, past and present, to ever put on a Major League Baseball uniform are Dominican and many believe the secret to their success may boil down, at least partly, to a broomstick and a bottle cap.

The island's national pastime on paper may be baseball, but ask any major leaguer – from David Ortiz to Jose Reyes – and they'll tell you "Vitilla" or Dominican stickball is the first game they've ever played.  

The game is played in the streets and parks of the D.R. Kids break and take their mothers' broomsticks to be used as bats, and tape together water jug caps to make a Vitilla, which is used as a baseball. Like baseball, players pitch the Vitilla, and players must hit it with a broomstick. It's harder than it sounds and the reality is, once players learn how to hit a sliding, curving, wobbly bottle cap, hitting a baseball with a bat seems a lot easier.

The street game has been played since the 1970s and now it's also hitting in U.S. On Sunday, a major Vitilla tournament sponsored by Red Bull is set to be played in the Bronx, New York, right next to Yankee stadium. 

Red Bull has sponsored Vitilla tournaments in the Dominican Republic since 2009, but this is the first time they've sponsored a tournament in the United States.

Sixteen teams, 8 experienced and 8 inexperienced (more amateur) teams will compete against one another for two championships. Organizers believe this is the first of many more tournaments in the United States as more and more Dominican immigrants bring the game into America's cities.

Watch the video above for more on Vitilla and the tournament.