Pedro Álvarez, Who Spent Childhood in NYC, Competes in Home Run Derby at Citi Field

Pedro Álvarez, Who Spent Childhood in NYC, Competes in Home Run Derby at Citi Field

By: Howard Goldin

Photo by Bill Menzel

Flushing, NY---The favorite play for most modern baseball fans is the home run. Thus, the annual Home Run Derby, held the day before the All-Star Game, has generated a great interest among fans since its inception in 1985.

This year’s event, held at Citi Field in New York City, has brought forth more local interest than usual. The two team captains, Robinson Cano and David Wright, represented the two local MLB franchises. A third local candidate, by former residence rather than currently with a local team, Pedro Álvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates, was named by Wright as a replacement for the injured Carlos Gonzalez last week.

Álvarez was born in the Dominican Republic and plays for a team in Pittsburgh, but he also has an attachment to New York City. The Pirate slugger spent much of his childhood in Washington Heights and the Bronx. He began his education at a school for gifted and talented students in Harlem, Mott Hall School.

The A student and already a talented baseball player was accepted at Horace Mann, a respected private school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. At that school, Álvarez succeeded both in the classroom and on the baseball field. His success on the high school level led to his selection by the Boston Red Sox in the 14th round of the 2005 First Year Player Draft. Always encouraged and supported by his parents, Pedro Sr., a cab driver and Luz, a teacher, in his scholastic and athletic endeavors, Pedro, Jr. believed it was best to first attend college.

He enrolled at Vandrebilt University in Nashville, where the star player still resides. During the three years he spent at college, his baseball skills and reputation improved substantially. He was recruited to the USA National Team, where his outstanding play received even more attention.

Álvarez, nicknamed “El Toro”, was the second overall pick in the 2008 First Year Player Draft. In the fall of 2008, he signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He began his career in the majors at the age of 23 on June 16, 2010.

Although 2013 is the first year Álvarez is an All-Star, he was active during All-Star week in 2009 when he was in the starting lineup in the Futures Game.

Álvarez is second in the National League home runs with 24, yet he was eliminated in the first round of the Home Run Derby after hitting six homers. Cano and Wright were also eliminated in the first round.

The surprise of the first round was the performance of Yoenis Céspedes, the only non-All-Star in the Derby. The Cuban defector belted 17 home runs, 12 traveling more than 400 feet. Mike Gallego, a former Yankees infielder and currently a coach for Oakland, tossed the pitches that brought the championship to Céspedes.

Céspedes led the four survivors to the second round with 23. The fan’s choice by votes to be in the contest, Harper, was second. Harper put eight balls into the seats in the final round. Once Céspedes hit his ninth, the contest concluded. At a press conference held earlier in the day, the soon-to-be-home run champ said, “I am very proud to be here and proud to represent all the Latin players.”

Chevrolet, the sponsor of the event, presented $529,000 To the Boys and girls clubs and the RBI Program. Tony LaRussa presented the championship trophy to the winner.