An Olympic speedskater now plays for Miami

Eddy Alvarez has one of the wildest roads to the Majors ever

August 5th, 2020
Art by Tom Forget

Due to a breakout of COVID-19, the Marlins had to make some roster adjustments to return to play this week. They called up a swath of Minor Leaguers -- one of those being infielder Eddy Alvarez. Once he gets into a game, it'll be his first taste of big league action.

The 30-year-old infielder isn't unlike many of his Minor League peers -- spending time in multiple leagues at multiple levels in multiple cities during the last six seasons. But he does have one thing that's a little bit different about him: He's a former Olympic speedskater.

The Miami native split his time between skating and baseball growing up, but skating, even in a tropical climate like South Florida, began to take more priority. Alvarez cruised South Beach on roller blades, wowing crowds with his playground tricks and speed. He was later introduced to the ice by a former Olympic speedskater and won numerous national competitions. He officially chose one sport over the other when he decided to turn down a baseball scholarship at St. Thomas University in the late-2000s.

Alvarez attempted to qualify for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, but failed. And then, after years of concentrating solely on skating, he made the U.S. team for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi -- becoming the first Cuban-American male to appear in the event. Alvarez didn't medal in his three individual races, but he did win silver in the 5000 meter relay.

Keeping a promise he made before the Games, Alvarez switched his focus back to baseball in late 2014. And it felt like the right move, as he told's Christina De Nicola in 2019.

"When I picked up a bat for the first time, it was heavy," Alvarez said. "It felt like home. I really missed it. I knew I wanted to give it a go. I didn’t know it was going to be professionally right away. I’m one of those people that always told myself that I didn’t want to have any regret doing anything in my athletic career. I did quit skating at the peak of my career to try and basically start over again at a different sport. I knew that if I didn’t try that, I would regret it."

And now, after putting up a very respectable .278/.375/.413 slash line in six Minor League seasons with a good glove and speed, and impressive showing at 2020 Summer Camp -- the baseball team he cheered for as a kid has come calling.

It's one of the wildest rides to the Majors that you can find; Alvarez now joins Jim Thorpe as the only Olympic medalists in another sport to play in the big leagues. He spoke to MLB Network about his story on Wednesday -- talking about how baseball was his first true love, how speedskating has helped his balance in the batter's box and, um, how he used to skate through South Beach in his Speedo.