Sosa, Pride Of The Dominicans

In New York's Washington Heights, it seems somebody is always playing ball, reports CBS News Correspondent Harry Smith. The players are mostly Domincans, who say they are born with baseball in their hearts.

These days, their hearts are fit to burst because of Sammy Sosa.

You feel Sosa's presence all over Washington Heights. In Sammy Sosa, Dominican Americans have found a hero.

"There is a lot of love for Sammy Sosa because he has put the Domincans on top. Viva sammy sosa," says one local.

The man who is battling Mark McGwire for the home run record -- like many other Domincans -- grew up dirt poor but rich in spirit. He is forever sending signals to his mother and the folks back home.

Steve Mandl coaches George Washington High School's baseball team -- one of the best in the country. His 25 Dominican players idolize Sammy Sosa.

For these young men, Sosa is more than a ball player. He is a Dominican who has achieved greatness in a country that has often been less than kind to newcomers.

Coach Mandl gets it big time. He was a Jewish kid from Brooklyn who worshipped one of his own -- Sandy Koufax.

"...when I was growing up he was my idol," says Mandl. "When you have some one from your family, your country, your background, you want him to do well."

That's why on late summer nights the streets of Washington Heights are still alive if Sammy Sosa is on TV. Every at bat ignites a kind of ecstasy. Baseball people say Sosa could win the award for most valuable player this year.

For Dominican Americans, that's already a done deal.

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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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