Two Passions, One Dream: Eddy Alvarez Focusing On Majors After Olympic Career

By Bill Francis, National Baseball Hall of Fame | Feb. 28, 2018, 1:18 p.m. (ET)

Eddy Alvarez is one of thousands of professional baseball players currently attending Spring Training. Unlike the others, though, his unique story includes Winter Olympics glory. 

Currently a Chicago White Sox farmhand, Alvarez, a 28-year-old native of Miami, won an Olympic Silver Medal in the 5,000-meter relay in speed skating with Team USA at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Soon afterward, Alvarez signed a free-agent deal with the ChiSox in June 2014. His older brother, Nick, played in the minors from 2000 to 2006 in the Dodgers’ system.

After excelling as a high school ballplayer, Alvarez devoted himself to speed skating except for a successful stint playing hardball at Salt Lake Community College in 2011. Since returning to the game as a minor leaguer, he has, in his four seasons, compiled a batting average of .276 (411-for-1,491) with 75 doubles, 13 triples, 20 home runs and 81 stolen bases. Alvarez has spent part of the past two seasons in Triple-A.

With the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games having just wrapped up, the National Baseball Hall of Fame recently conducted a phone interview with Alvarez, the short track speed skater turned switch-hitting infielder speaking from his home in Miami.

HALL OF FAME:

Have you ever been to Cooperstown?

EDDY ALVAREZ:

Yeah, I was in Cooperstown when I was 11 or 12 years old. I went to a baseball camp with a travel team. It was amazing. I still remember those days.

HOF:

Any memories of Cooperstown?

EA:

It was a really cool experience. I visited the Hall of Fame with my parents. Not that I can tell you exactly what I saw because it was so long ago, but I do remember visiting.

HOF:

Did you have a favorite baseball player growing up? 

EA:

As a kid, and I don’t know what it was, but for some reason Ozzie Smith is the one. He wasn’t the biggest guy, wasn’t the strongest guy, but his agility and his coordination to make plays was incredible.

HOF:

As for current players, you do you like watching play today?

EA:

Matt Carpenter and Joey Votto are my favorite players to watch.

HOF:

Have you been watching the Winter Olympics this year?

EA:

Yes, of course. I made a lot of friends in 2014 at the Sochi Olympics in all sorts of sports. Not only that, I trained and I grinded my hours on the ice with most of those guys that are on the short track team now, so every minute I get I’m supporting them.

HOF:

What’s it like not being an Olympics participant this year?

EA:

It’s tough. It’s definitely bittersweet. I love the time during the Olympics. Since I was little it always made me happy. And just knowing you can turn on the TV and watch all sorts of sports. It’s fun for me during this time. But at the same time I wanted to experience it again just because it was so amazing the first time. There’s nothing quite like walking in those opening ceremonies wearing your country’s colors.

HOF:

Can you talk about going from roller skating as a child and then making the transition to ice skating?

EA:

I think it’s a little more unique that I come from probably the hottest state in the whole country and I end up on the ice. But I had someone who paved the way for me. Not only my coaches growing up but I has a fellow teammate, her name was Jennifer Rodriguez, who kind of has a similar story as me, who started on wheels, made the transition to the ice, made it to the Olympics and won. 

HOF:

Are there any similarities you can think of between speed skating and baseball?

EA:

Definitely not the outfits. But we do turn left – in baseball we run left around the bases and in skating we turn left. And I guess intuition; making decisions fast. And skating involved a lot of lower body strength and balance, so that’s something that has really helped me in this accelerated process with baseball. My base was always so strong, so I really incorporated that into my swing and into my fielding.

HOF:

How about your family history with baseball?

EA:

My family comes from Cuba and I’m a first-generation American. All my uncles, my dad, his dad, they all grew up playing baseball in Cuba. The age difference with my brother was a pretty big gap – he’s 13 years older than me – but he experienced what I’m experiencing now and he’s helped me so much. He’s told me what to expect and played a huge role in this process.

To read the rest of the interview, click here.