Love of Yankees pulled Alfredo Alvarez from Cuba
Alfredo Alvarez has bases full with thriving media company.
At one point merely uttering the word “Yankees” in public seemed like an impossibility for Alfredo Alvarez. He was just 15-years-old when a policeman arrested him in his hometown of Matanzas, Cuba. His crime? Carrying a cassette with the word Yankees on it.
Nobody could have guessed he was already starting a journey to build a one-of-a-kind Spanish language sports empire in the United States. “Alfre” started his company with the site “Con Las Bases Llenas.” Now he talks about the New York Yankees and baseball with exuberance and confidence.
Alvarez begins his podcasts by welcoming his “familia beisbolera.” He shares his passion for baseball, especially the Yankees. Alfre couldn’t share that exuberance when he was arrested two decades ago in Cuba, though.
Alvarez was an athlete and appeared more mature than his peers at the time. The police officer didn’t believe this boy was only 15, so he laid into him.
“In Cuba, these materials are subversive,” Alvarez remembers the policeman saying in Spanish.
Subversivo. This word stuck with Alvarez. It left him wondering how a Major League Baseball organization could possibly threaten Fidel Castro’s government?
His grandfather Humberto introduced him to Yankees history. Abuelo once served six months in prison at the start of Fidel Castro’s revolution after his grandfather’s boat was stolen. The thieves then attempted to escape Cuba. Castro’s government believed that Humberto had sold the boat to the thieves. He was tortured and left lame on one leg, Alvarez says.
Alvarez was just a boy when he spotted an old magazine in abuelo Humberto’s house. In it was a picture of Babe Ruth – or as Abuelo would pronounce it “Bah-beh Roo.”
Alvarez was enamored by Ruth’s appearance. He couldn’t resist asking questions. Seeing his grandson’s curiosity, Abuelo told him stories of the great Yankee champions.
This had a great impact on Alvarez.
Now, here’s this officer assaulting all of these memories. Arresting him for daring to carry something with the word “Yankees” on it.
“I swore that day to work in baseball,” he said. “That I would realize my dreams and that he would be calling me a (feces eater) for the rest of his life.”
Alfredo Alvarez’s Dreams realized
Nearly 20 years later, Alfredo Alvarez steps foot on the field in Yankee Stadium for the first time. He wears a lanyard with a Baseball Writers’ Association of America card.
“This is a dream come true for me,” he said. “It’s like the big leagues for what we do.”
From a young age, Alvarez knew he would be here. Maybe this wasn’t exactly how he thought it would happen, covering two series for his own company, but here he is.
As a child, Alvarez was an excellent baseball player. He was sent to Cuba’s sports initiation school – Escuela de Iniciación Deportiva Escolar. The EIDE is like a boarding school for athletes. From there, he graduated to the Escuela de Superación y Perfeccionamiento Atlético (ESPA).
These Soviet-inspired institutions are known for rigid curriculums in academics and sports. Cuba has won more Olympic medals (226) than any nation in Latin America using this system.
Food was scarce. The bathrooms were unsanitary, and students slept on hard wooden beds with thin pieces of foam, Alvarez laments.
Still, Alvarez was on his way to the Cuban National Series, the big leagues in Cuba – until he suffered a shoulder injury while exercising.
Doctors advised Alvarez to have the arm surgically repaired to continue to play baseball. Alvarez saw it as a chance to consider his future.
“The only thing I wanted in life was to get out of Cuba,” he said. “And maybe I wasn’t even that good to be one of the top 25 players there.”
A new career path out
Alvarez then began working in the tourism industry as an entertainer. He learned that he was an extrovert and loved performing in front of crowds. He also began to plan his escape from the island.
A few years into his career as an entertainer, a dancer told Alvarez that a friend at the French embassy in Cuba informed him that there would be a scholarship for two people to study marketing in Paris. Alvarez and his wife Jessica applied for the scholarships.
“That’s how I left Cuba,” Alvarez said with a touch of sadness.
He and his wife made their journey from Cuba to France and then to Mexico. Then they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States to declare political asylum.
“It was the best day in my life when the border agent said ‘welcome to the United States,’” he said.
Building an empire
Alfre Alvarez credits his entrepreneurial spirit to his father Alfredo. Don Alfredo provided his son with a great lesson in hard work and determination at the age of seven.
At the time, Alvarez asked his father for a pet bird.
“If you want a bird, go get it,” he remembers his father telling him. “Go to work.”
Together, they hopped on their bicycles and visited a local farmer, who let them pick fruits from his land to sell on the street.
“So, I went and sold the fruit on the street,” he remembers. “By the end of the day, I had enough money to buy the bird.”
Combined with his gregarious personality, Alvarez’s go-getter mentality enabled him to give birth to Con Las Bases Llenas on August 13, 2017, which was also his mother Maria Elena’s birthday.
“She gave me life,” he said with pride. “So, I gave life to this site on the same day too.”
Since then, Alvarez and his wife Jessica have created a beautiful family together. They have two children, Alfredo Derek – named after Yankees captain Derek Jeter – and Amaya.
Alfredo Alvarez, visionary
He has also nurtured a baseball family, which includes over 30 employees across eight countries – the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Spain.
“Alfre became a visionary at a young age,” says Raul Ramos, who believed in Alvarez and his company from the beginning. “Understanding the need for a serious baseball reporting platform for Spanish-speaking fans.”
Alvarez’s team also includes Danny Torres, host of the Talkin’ 21 Podcast and an 11-year contributor to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s magazine.
“His entrance into the baseball panorama speaks volumes of his extraordinary passion and the importance of branding,” Torres said of Alvarez.
Con Las Bases Llenas attracts an audience in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people across the globe. Its YouTube channel, Que Pasa MLB, has amassed 40,000 subscribers since 2019.
The police officer who arrested Alfre Alvarez two decades ago may very well be sitting alone somewhere in Cuba. He probably has nothing to his name but a fizzling communist government he once defended with such pride.
As for Alvarez, he sits in the press box in Yankees stadium realizing his dream.
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