World Series: Yordan Alvarez’s Family Is Here From Cuba to Cheer for Astros

HOUSTON – Half an hour before Game 2 of the World Series begins here on Saturday night, Yordan Alvarez’s special guests passed through the crowded lounge at Minute Maid Park. Alvarez, a designated attacker and midfielder for the Houston Astros, was in the club getting ready to play while his parents and younger brother settled into their familiar seats in Season 122.

Within minutes, Alvarez’s father, Agustín, 52, was spotted by fans.

“Tonight is the night: He will be active,” one man told Agustín Alvarez, who appreciated him after the message was translated into Spanish. Moments later, another fan approached him. “I’m Cuban too,” she said in Spanish, before asking for a selfie.

afterward Charlie Gonzalez, the Astros scout who helped convince the team’s main office to buy Yordan from the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016, waved and shook Agustín’s hand. “What a pleasure,” they said to each other in Spanish.

The whole time, Agustín Alvarez beamed with pride.

Although he has been coming to Minute Maid Park for two months to watch his son play, the thrill has not subsided. Since 2016, when Yordan signed with the Dodgers after leaving his native Cuba, until this August, Agustín and his wife, Mailyn Cadogan Reyes, have not seen their son play a professional game. In those six years, they also barely watched him play live on television.

Yordan left home at the age of 17, knowing no English, to pursue his baseball dreams. His journey took him from Cuba to the Dominican Republic to Haiti. He came to the United States, first to join the Dodgers. He was then traded to the Astros.

Along the way, he went from a skinny but tall prospect who didn’t hit to much strength to develop and change his shot, which earned him the 2019 American League rookie of the year. five. He developed into one of the best baseball players and got a six-year, $115 million contract extension. But his parents watched all of that unfold from afar.

“It affects you,” Yordan Alvarez, 25, said in Spanish. “It is really difficult. Imagine that many years away from your family, especially your parents. You are starting a life essentially without them. “

Yordan has seen his parents briefly over the years, sneaking off-season travel to Cuba or meeting them in the Dominican Republic, his father said. But Yordan couldn’t have them around every day or let them sit in the stands to watch him play.

So far, after years of prayer and almost two years of working with an immigration attorney. Yordan said Astros owner Jim Crane asked Carlos Rosas, an immigration attorney in Houston, for help. Agustín Alvarez said he, his wife and their 15-year-old son, Yonder, returned to the Dominican Republic last year, where they waited until they obtained the visitor visas needed to enter the United States via Mexico.

Cadogan, 48, speaks Spanish. “But I always had faith that I could stay here and watch him play in the big leagues. I never lost faith. And thank God, here we are. “

In mid-August, Agustín said Rosas took them by car through the border crossing in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, to Houston. The Astros were on their way, but when Yordan returned home, they were reunited with lots of hugs, kisses, and even tears.

“We stayed up late,” Agustín said, “and often, we hugged each other.”

Then at last, on August 23Yordan’s parents and brother came to watch him play. Yordan Alvarez admits he scanned the stands for their faces before his first kick-off, and he feels more nervous than ever.

He was brilliant, but scored the only goal in the second game in a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. Agustín said the family’s presence was announced at the stadium and fans quickly started stopping by to say hello or take pictures. It also helps that the 6-foot-4 Agustín, the Cuban baseball player, and the Yordan 6-5 are nearly identical: taller, bigger torso, thinner legs.

“Look, he got that from me,” Agustín said, laughing as he rolled up his jeans to his calves.

During that first match, Cadogan cried. Then she said she started feeling around her eyes. She quickly felt worse, and a headache set in. She knew it was her high blood pressure that flared up. After the match, she went to the emergency room, where she stayed until 3 a.m.

“It’s because of the emotion of being in the stadium, seeing people cheering for my son,” she said. “It’s a lot of emotion.”

Yordan said he didn’t immediately know what happened because he was being interviewed at the Astros’ club after the game. Then he looked at his phone and saw several missed calls from his wife, Monica.

“It’s completely different for them,” he said. “Imagine leaving Cuba and going to the United States and going to a big game of the tournament.”

Game 2 of the World Series, between the Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night, had 42,926 announced attendees. Amid the crowd and size of the stadium, and the fervor and cheering for their son, Yordan’s parents were initially overwhelmed to see him.

“It was amazing and amazing,” Cadogan said. She said she felt “extremely proud” to see so many people wearing her son’s number 44 shirt. She continued: “I didn’t expect this, but now I’m living this. And a lot of people have come to us to congratulate them.”

While they were away, Yordan talked to his parents daily by phone. Agustín said his son often reassures him that he is doing fine, but he can tell that their absence will sometimes weigh on him. He notices that most when trying to cheer his son up during his poor appetite, and Yordan says he misses them.

Watching my son play while he’s still in Cuba can do the trick. During the 2019 World Series, in which Houston lost to the Washington Nationals, Agustín said a friend drove him for more than an hour to a hotel with a TV show. From the Dominican Republic last fall, he said he watched his son compete in the 2021 World Series, in which the Astros lost to the Atlanta Braves.

“We suffered,” Agustín said. “We have enjoyed knowing about him and hearing from him over the years and how he does. But it was one of the biggest struggles we had to go through, which was not being able to meet him. “

The opposite has happened to Yordan since his family members came to the United States. Before his family’s visa was approved, he said, he had checked in with an immigration attorney “every day for eight months”.

“I knew I had to have faith and not feel hopeless,” Yordan said. “I know that one day the time will come.”

Yordan’s teammates said they saw a change in his mood after his parents arrived.

It’s an atypical situationUtility player Aledmys Díaz, who defected from Cuba in 2012, said. All the other Latinos have the opportunity to return to their home countries after the season, and for us it is a little more difficult.”

The perks of having a parent around: Yordan’s dad can give baseball advice more often, and his mom prepares Yordan’s favorite meal the first week she’s in Houston – carne con papas (beef) Cuban stew with potatoes). “I don’t know what seasoning she put in it, but it was delicious,” he said.

During Yordan’s matches, Agustín reacts to his son’s every throw. In the first inning on Saturday, he was flustered when Yordan, the designated hitter, fouled a pitcher Zack Wheeler at 97 mph, knowing his son’s swing was slightly slow down a little bit. He was appreciative of Yordan’s agents and nearby fans as Yordan crushed the next pitch, a 93 mph slider, off the left scoreboard for a double-goal. Yordan was then tagged and advanced to third base on a flyout, and scored thanks to a Phillies throw.

“I like the way he runs there,” he said. “I’ll tell him after the game.”

Then Yordan said: “He pays a lot of attention. I had to have an answer ready when he met me because no details escaped him, especially about me. “

Due to recent activity, Agustín did not go to Seattle or New York to watch the Astros road playoff games. He watched his son achieve one of the greatest home runs in post-season history, a game-ending three-phase blast in an 8-7 win over the Seattle Mariners in the Game. 1 of their AL series. Now, with the World Series drawing 1-1, moving to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Monday, Agustín will be at Citizens Bank Park.

The goal, Yordan said, is for his family to be able to play more games and stay in the United States for good. The next step is for them to apply for residency.

Agustín said they wanted to join Yordan, his wife, and their two children in Tampa, Fla., where they live off-season. There, he said, they hope Yonder can go to school and learn English. Agustín, who has taught Russian in Cuba and managed a restaurant for 15 years, said he would love to find a job one day again.

“It’s not out of necessity, but I should feel better,” he said.

In the rounds that followed, Cadogan watched quietly as she sat next to Yordan’s wife, who was born in Cuba but came to the United States at age 5 and helped Yordan acclimate and learn some English. In the ninth inning, Agustín watched intently. He clenched his fists after striking and leaned against the aisle to get a better look at the people standing in front of him.

After Saturday’s final 5-2 win over the Astros, Agustín shook hands and applauded those around him. Cadogan recorded the celebratory fireworks display on his mobile phone.

As the fans walked up the stairs, many of them recognized Agustín. One gave a fist punch. Another stopped to ask for a selfie in English, obligatory Agustín. He later admitted that he did not understand much of what was said. He and his wife are learning English on an app, but he’s not getting that far.

“I just heard ‘the picture,’” Agustín said with a laugh.

Told of his father’s celebrity in Season 122 and throughout the stadium, Yordan grinned. “He’s more popular than I am,” he said.


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