'Epic': Olympian Alvarez hits 1st MLB HR

September 12th, 2021

ATLANTA -- Thirty-five days after earning a silver medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics with Team USA Baseball, Marlins infielder hit his first career Major League home run on Saturday at Truist Park.

Alvarez crushed a 95.4 mph fastball down the middle from Atlanta starter Charlie Morton deep into the right-field stands, helping give Miami a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Alvarez's homer traveled a Statcast-projected 418 feet with a 104.8 mph exit velocity.

The home run came in Alvarez’s 48th career plate appearance and was quite the cherry on top of one of the best feel-good stories in baseball. For his home run to happen as the U.S. remembers the events of Sept. 11, 20 years later, a month after he represented his country in the Olympics, made it all the more meaningful and emotional for Alvarez.

“Now, that's every kid's dream, every kid that wants to make it to the Major Leagues, that's all you dream about,” Alvarez said. “I didn't know it was gonna be on this day. This day, it means a lot to me. And for all our fallen men and women and all the families that lost loved ones, 20 years later, for me with my story to have it on this day, this is, I can't find another word but epic.”

Alvarez, 31, didn’t debut until last season because his athletic career began in speed skating. He won a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi as a part of the 5,000-meter relay team and didn’t sign with a professional baseball team until later that June. Alvarez debuted last season with the Marlins at age 30 and played 12 games in August and September before returning to the big league club in 2021 on Aug. 7.

The dual-sport athlete is in elite company as one of just 135 athletes to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympics, and he’s just the sixth to medal in both games. And now he can add a Major League homer to his list of accomplishments.

“I don't even want to shower, guys, I’m not even lying to you,” Alvarez added. “This has been an unbelievable ride. It's hard to really put into words how much everything I've been blessed with, how much it means to me. I’m just trying to be the best person that I can be on and off the field, and I'm just gonna keep going. That's kind of been my motto since I was younger. Through all adversity, all obstacles, I just keep pushing through. So we're finally seeing a little bit of the sacrifice kind of showing up now.”

The Marlins did have fun with Alvarez after he rounded the bases on Saturday. The team recovered the home run ball from a young girl, who wanted an autographed bat in return. But second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. playfully tossed it into the netting above the dugout before the ball rolled back to them.

“Oh, that was a surprisingly great reaction,” Alvarez said. “Never in a million years did I ever think that I would get the feedback that I got from my teammates. In the back of my head, I thought they're gonna give me the silent treatment, to be honest with you. But everyone was just giving me hugs. And they were meaningful hugs. And it just kind of shows me that they understand the road and the journey that it took for me to get to where I am now. I’m going to get a little emotional now because it means a lot.”