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When hitting baseballs was no longer an option, Pedro Alvarez hit the books

By Jerry Crasnick

Education was always the focus in the Alvarez household. A young Pedro Alvarez received the lecture more than once from his parents, Pedro and Luz, who emigrated from the Dominican Republic to New York when he was one year old in 1988 and never yielded in their expectations.


“My parents kind of ingrained that into our household with me and my sister,’’ Alvarez says. “I would get the speech, ‘If you don't do well in school, you can't play baseball.’ Thankfully, I never had to experience that.’’


The priorities were clear when Alvarez enrolled at the elite Horace Mann School in the Bronx as a teenager and passed on a bonus offer of almost a million dollars from the Boston Red Sox as a 14th round draft pick in 2005 to go to school and play baseball at Vanderbilt University.


And now the academic portion of the story comes full circle, as a prelude to an intriguing second act.

Today, Alvarez swaps his bat and ball for a cap and gown. Fourteen years after leaving Vanderbilt to sign his first professional contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates -- and four years after taking his final big-league at-bat with the Baltimore Orioles -- he graduates from Vandy as a Dean’s list student with a major in Medicine, Health and Society. It’s an emotional time for him, for an abundance of reasons.


“I've been able to do a lot of things on the field,’’ Alvarez says. “Getting that degree is pretty high up there on my list of accomplishments.’’