HOUSTON — A half-hour before Game 2 of the World Series began here Saturday night, Yordan Alvarez’s special guests wove through the crowded concourse at Minute Maid Park. Alvarez, a delegated hitter and outfielder for the Houston Astros, was within the clubhouse on the brink of play while his parents and younger brother settled into their usual seats in Section 122.
Inside minutes, Alvarez’s father, Agustín, 52, had been spotted by fans.
“Tonight is the night: He’s going to homer,” a person said to Agustín Alvarez, who high-fived him after the message was interpreted into Spanish. Moments later, one other fan approached him. “I’m Cuban, too,” she said in Spanish, before asking for a selfie.
Then Charlie Gonzalez, the Astros scout who helped persuade the team’s front office to accumulate Yordan from the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016, swung by and shook Agustín’s hand. “It’s a pleasure,” they said to one another in Spanish.
Your complete time, Agustín Alvarez beamed with pride.
Although he has been coming to Minute Maid Park for 2 months now to see his son play, the joys hasn’t worn off. From 2016, when Yordan signed with the Dodgers after leaving his native Cuba, until this August, Agustín and his wife, Mailyn Cadogan Reyes, didn’t see their son play knowledgeable game in person. In those six years, they barely watched him play survive television, either.
Yordan left home at age 17, with none command of English, to pursue his baseball dreams. His journey took him from Cuba to the Dominican Republic to Haiti. He got here to the USA, first to affix the Dodgers. Then he was traded to the Astros.
Along the way in which, he went from a thin but tall prospect who didn’t hit for much power to growing and changing his swing, which helped him develop into the 2019 American League rookie of the 12 months. He developed into among the best hitters in baseball and earned a six-year, $115 million contract extension. But his parents watched all of that unfold from afar.
“It does affect you,” Yordan Alvarez, 25, said in Spanish. “It was really hard. Imagine that a few years away from your loved ones, especially your parents. You’re starting a life mainly without them.”
Yordan saw his parents briefly over time, sneaking trips within the off-season to Cuba or meeting them within the Dominican Republic, his father said. But Yordan couldn’t have them around on daily basis or have them sit within the stands to see him play.
Until now, after years of praying and nearly two years of working with an immigration lawyer. Yordan said Jim Crane, the owner of the Astros, asked Carlos Rosas, a Houston immigration lawyer, to assist. Agustín Alvarez said he, his wife and their 15-year-old son, Yonder, returned last 12 months to the Dominican Republic, where they waited until they secured the visitor visas needed to enter the USA through Mexico.
“We felt bad that we couldn’t see him,” Cadogan, 48, said in Spanish. “But I all the time had faith that I may very well be here and see him play in the large leagues. I never lost faith. And thank God we’re here.”
In mid-August, Agustín said Rosas took them by automobile through the border crossing in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, to Houston. The Astros were on the road, but when Yordan returned home, they reunited with plenty of hugs, kisses and tears.
“We were up late,” Agustín said, “and on occasion, we’d hug again.”
Then, finally, on Aug. 23, Yordan’s parents and brother got to see him play. Yordan Alvarez admitted that he scanned the stands searching for their faces before his first at-bat and that he felt more nervous than ever.
He grounded out, but singled in his second at-bat in a 4-2 win against the Minnesota Twins. Agustín said the family’s presence was announced on the stadium, and fans soon began stopping by to say hello or snap photos. It also helped that the 6-foot-4 Agustín, who played baseball in Cuba, and the 6-5 Yordan closely resemble one another: tall, larger upper bodies, skinnier legs.
“Look, he got that from me,” Agustín said, laughing, as he rolled up his jeans to his calves.
During that first game, Cadogan cried. Then she said she began feeling pulsing near her eyes. She soon felt worse, and a headache emerged. She knew it was her hypertension flaring up. After the sport, she went to the emergency room, where she remained until 3 a.m.
“It was due to emotions of being on the stadium, seeing people cheer for my son,” she said. “It was a whole lot of emotions.”
Yordan said he didn’t immediately know what happened because he was being interviewed within the Astros’ clubhouse after the sport. Then he checked out his phone and saw several missed calls from his wife, Monica.
“It’s totally different for them,” he said. “Imagine leaving Cuba and coming to the USA and coming to a significant league game.”
Game 2 of the World Series, between the Astros and Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night, had an announced attendance of 42,926. Between the crowds and the stadium sizes, and the fanfare and the cheering for his or her son, Yordan’s parents were initially overwhelmed watching him.
“It’s marvelous and astonishing,” Cadogan said. She said she felt “an enormous amount of pride” seeing so many individuals wearing her son’s No. 44 jersey. She continued: “I didn’t expect this, but now I’m living this. And a whole lot of people have come as much as us to congratulate us.”
While they were away, Yordan talked to his parents each day by phone. Agustín said his son often reassured him he was doing OK, but he could tell their absence would at times weigh on him. He noticed it most when he tried to encourage his son during a slump on the plate, and Yordan said he missed them.
Watching his son play while he was still in Cuba may very well be tricky. In the course of the 2019 World Series, during which Houston lost to the Washington Nationals, Agustín said a friend drove him over an hour away to a hotel that had the tv broadcast. From the Dominican Republic last fall, he said he watched his son play within the 2021 World Series, during which the Astros lost to the Atlanta Braves.
“We suffered,” Agustín said. “We enjoyed knowing about him and hearing from him through the years and the way he was doing. But it surely’s one in all the most important struggles we’ve had, not with the ability to see him.”
The alternative has been true for Yordan since his relations arrived in the USA. Before his family’s visas were approved, he said, he checked in with the immigration lawyer “on daily basis for like eight months.”
“I knew I needed to have faith and never feel desperate,” Yordan said. “I knew that someday the time would come.”
Yordan’s teammates said they saw a change in his mood after his parents’ arrival.
“It’s an atypical situation,” said the utility player Aledmys Díaz, who defected from Cuba in 2012. “All the other Latinos have the possibility to return to their country after the season, and for us it’s a bit harder.”
The perks of getting his parents around now: Yordan’s father can offer more frequent baseball suggestions and his mother prepared Yordan’s favorite meal the primary week she was in Houston — carne con papas (Cuban-style stewed beef with potatoes). “I don’t know what seasoning she puts in there, however it’s so yummy,” he said.
During Yordan’s games, Agustín reacts to each pitch of his son’s at-bats. In the primary inning on Saturday, he flinched when Yordan, the designated hitter, fouled off a 97-mile-per-hour fastball from Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler, knowing his son’s swing was a bit behind. He high-fived Yordan’s agents and nearby fans when Yordan crushed the following pitch, a 93-m.p.h. slider, off the left-field scoreboard for a run-scoring double. Yordan later tagged up and advanced to 3rd base on a flyout, and scored on a Phillies throwing error.
“I like how he ran there,” he said. “I’ll tell him after the sport.”
Later, Yordan said: “He notices rather a lot. I actually have to have a solution ready when he sees me after because no detail escapes him, especially about me.”
Due to a recent operation, Agustín didn’t travel to Seattle or Recent York to see the Astros’ road playoff games. He did see his son hit one in all the best home runs in postseason history, a game-ending, three-run blast in an 8-7 win over the Seattle Mariners in Game 1 of their A.L. division series. Now that the World Series, which is tied, 1-1, shifts to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Monday, Agustín shall be at Residents Bank Park.
The goal, Yordan said, is for his family to be around for a lot of more games and remain in the USA for good. The following step can be for them to use for residency.
Agustín said they wanted to affix Yordan, his wife and their two children in Tampa, Fla., where they live within the off-season. There, he said, they hope Yonder can go to high school and learn English. Agustín, who was taught Russian in Cuba and managed restaurants for 15 years, said he would love to seek out a job again someday.
“It’s not out of need, but I’d feel higher,” he said.
In the course of the later innings, Cadogan watched quietly as she sat next to Yordan’s wife, who was born in Cuba but got here to the USA at age 5 and has helped Yordan adapt and learn some English. Within the ninth inning, Agustín watched intently. He pumped his fist after a strikeout and leaned into the aisle to get a greater view across the people standing in front of him.
After the ultimate out of the Astros’ 5-2 victory Saturday, Agustín shook hands and high-fived those around him. Cadogan recorded the celebratory fireworks on a cellphone.
As fans streamed up the steps, more of them recognized Agustín. One offered a fist bump. One other stopped to ask in English for a selfie, which Agustín obliged. Later, he admitted he hadn’t understood much of what was said. He and his wife are studying English on an app, but he isn’t that far along.
“I just heard ‘photo,’” Agustín said, laughing.
Told later of his father’s celebrity in Section 122 and throughout the stadium, Yordan grinned. “He’s more famous than me,” he said.