Diunte: Remembering Rogelio ‘Borrego’ Alvarez, 74

From SABR member Nick Diunte at Examiner.com on December 1, 2012:

Rogelio “Borrego” Alvarez, former first baseman for the Cincinnati Reds and Cuban Winter League star, died Friday evening in Hialeah, Fla., due to complications from kidney failure according to a former teammate who wished to remain anonymous. He was 74.

Alvarez was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1956 out of his hometown of Pinar del Rio, Cuba. I interviewed Alvarez at his home in February 2011, and he vividly recalled his tough transition from Cuba to the United States. “I was 17 and a half. That year, we came about eight of us all together to Douglass, Ga. It was a little town, and we went there to train,” he said. Alvarez would soon be faced with the harsh realities of segregation, something he didn’t experience in Cuba. “I didn’t know it was so bad, the colored people couldn’t go no place. The white people stayed in the good hotel, we had to go to the black community and stay in a house, stuff like that. We didn’t understand the bad words, so we didn’t know what they said.”

Even worse for Alvarez, he didn’t speak English, and was quickly separated from his Cuban counterparts. “We had two blacks, me and Leo Cardenas. They had 14 teams and they didn’t want colored people. Cardenas got signed and went to Tucson in the Arizona Mexican League. They [Tucson] said, ‘We like you too, but we have a first baseman.’ They left me in Georgia. That broke my heart, to see everybody going and I’m going to stay by myself with no English. Nobody else spoke Spanish,” said Alvarez.

Read the full article here: http://www.examiner.com/article/rogelio-borrego-alvarez-74-cincinnati-reds-first-baseman-and-cuban-star

Originally published: December 3, 2012. Last Updated: December 3, 2012.