During the trip, the Cardinals will play a series of exhibition games, host a baseball camp and volunteer.
Head coach Rich Maloney said he jumped at the opportunity to take his team to the island nation.
“I think this is one of those cultural, academic, athletic experiences that, quite frankly, if you’re able to do it, is an absolute no-brainer,” he said.
Maloney said it will also be a learning experience for the players.
“We’re supposed to educate what’s really out there in the world,” he said. “That’s the whole idea of higher education. So, for me, this provides our kids an opportunity to learn at a different level than they will on the baseball field or in the classroom.”
The Cardinals will play five split-squad games in the Dominican, including two against developmental teams for the New York Mets and World Series champion Kansas City Royals.
“That’ll be cool — the two World Series teams [and] their developmental teams for their Dominican players," Maloney said. "We’ll be able to play against them. That’ll be a great experience for our guys.”
National Collegiate Athletic Association rules allowed the Cardinals 10 extra fall practices because of the foreign tour, but Maloney said the primary benefit trip is akin to a semester abroad.
“I think for personal growth, for team growth — I’m talking baseball aside — it’s going to be a win for all of us to experience together,” he said.
He said much of the growth will come through their community service.
“We’re going to serve food to a sugar-cane village where there’s a lot of poverty,” he said. “We’re also going to give out toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap — a lot of things we take for granted here. ... Some Dominican people don’t have the same luxuries that we have.”
While the players may not be with their families for Thanksgiving, Maloney said he thinks the Cardinals will learn about the spirit of the holiday first-hand.
“The place that we’ll be going, they don’t have electricity and a restroom like we have,” he said. “This will be an opportunity for our guys to really help somebody else and also to realize how thankful they need to be for what we have here in America.”