By Yasel Porto
Pedro Álvarez can sometimes be controversia, in the way he pitches and in terms of what he says on Social Media about how he conducts himself on the field. There might also be a divided debate about a talent that some people consider to be below the one he had when he came along despite his good results this season.
What he has proven over and over, and with zero opposite opinions, is the great humanity of this Sancti Spíritus-born hurler. During the current season, which he is playing for Industriales, there are certain transcendental actions on his part that should not be overlooked.
First, after the untimely death of Leo Menéndez, a young Industriales fan who died in a car crash, Pedro pitched a game with a t-shirt under his jersey paying tribute to the deceased young man. There was a lot of impact when after his excellent performance in Estadio Latinoamericano, he took of his jersey and let everyone see what he was wearing under. He looked up and pointed to the sky as he was walking to the dugout, under the applause of the crowd.
After that, there were many times when he met fans in Havana and in his native Sancti Spíritus when he had to visit the province. Photographs, autographs and conversations inside and outside the ballpark have been commonplace for Álvarez the past few months.
But last Thursday there was a really meaningful moment with the Cerro stadium as witness of his greatness as a human being.
Eduardo Tabraue is a young Industriales fan with serious difficulties that keep him from using his legs to walk.
A resident of Alamar, in the municipality of Eastern Havana, Eduardo always had the dream of hitting in Estadio Latinoamericano, the most important ballpark in Cuba. His condition and the fact that he is not a baseball player made most people believe that his dream would never come true. Maybe he stopped believing it himself at some point.
But long before the start of the game between Industriales and Santiago de Cuba, there was an event that filled the hearts of those attending with emotion, and which had Pedro Álvarez as a key player.
The ace of the Leones, with experience in Cuba’s top level baseball since 2014, was one of those responsible for Eduardo to take the field on his wheelchair. On top of it all, he spent some time talking to him and even took him to the center of the field so he could throw some baseballs for him to hit. One of them found a bat and went all the way to the outfield.
The experience had such an impact on Tabraue that it didn’t take him long to express his feelings. “Today is one of the happiest days of my life. Today I have made an old dream come true, as life didn’t let me become a member of this glorious team. But I feel proud to have everyone’s friendship,” he started writing on a post of the Facebook page “Por la Goma” (Over the Plate), in which there were photos and even a video of such an emotional moment.
“I have to express my endless gratitude to my friend Pedro Ángel Álvarez Jiménez for making my dream come true, and thank everyone who had something to do with it today, March 31. It came true exactly 12 years after the last title achieved by Industriales, my team of all time. Thanks to my family too. Without them, I am nothing,” he ended.
As far as I am concerned, it is the first time something like this happen in Cuba: a fan on a wheelchair getting a symbolic base hit off a National Series pitcher, whether in Estadio Latinoamericano or in any other important facility hosting Cuba’s top baseball league.
Maybe some people will try to diminish the importance of such actions, and maybe Pedro Álvarez himself has no clue of how great these actions make him as a human being. However, these actions, which provide strength for so many people with complicated lives, have an endless influence in many aspects.