“You don’t get to talk to major league baseball players that much, so it’s a rare opportunity,” Varsity Baseball player Miles Kuhn (10) said. However, on Wednesday, April 30, the Boys Varsity Baseball team had the opportunity to speak with Major League Baseball (MLB) player Pedro Alvarez ‘05 in a Zoom meeting. During the call, Alvarez shared his experience as an MLB player and gave the team advice.
Boys Varsity Baseball coach Matthew Russo, who coached Alvarez during his time at the school, planned the talk. “I was really fortunate to coach him when he was here at HM,” Russo said. “As time had gone on after he left Horace Mann, we have become more like family friends.”
JV player Sam Perlman (9) was excited for the talk and was happy to see how excited Alvarez was to speak to the team, he said. “It was interesting to see how Coach Russo was so close with him,” Perlman said. “It was cool to see how they have such a long-lasting relationship.”
The team had a similar meeting the week before in which MLB player Harrison Bader ‘12 came to speak with them. “We had a similar call with Harrison Bader, so I was expecting it [the call] to be like that,” Perlman said.
Before the talk, Russo told the team during a Zoom practice that Alvarez would share some of his insight about the game. “He said Pedro knew everything there was to know about hitting, and he’d also give us a glimpse into his path to the MLB,” Team Captain Suraj Khakee (12) said.
After hearing stories about Alvarez from Russo, Khakee expected Alvarez to be nice and humble, he said.
“I expected him to be very knowledgeable about the game,” Kuhn said.
Many members of the team wanted to hear about Alvarez’s experience as an MLB player as well as his experience as an alumnus. “I was excited to hear Pedro speak about what it’s really like in an MLB clubhouse and to hear some of his stories about playing at HM because I can relate to many of them,” Khakee said.
During the talk, Alvarez shared stories about his career and gave advice, specifically regarding hitting. “You don’t ever swing at where the ball is, you swing at where you think it’s going to be,” he said. Russo said that Alvarez gave the team a glimpse into the complexities of hitting.
In addition, Alvarez spoke about his experience of learning from watching other players compete. “I would definitely watch a lot of different players, and I would focus more on players that were similar to me,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez also gave advice about having a clear mind when going up to bat and instructed the players not to overthink, Kuhn said. “He said that he knows we are HM students, so we have a tendency to think too much,” Khakee said.
During the talk, a team member asked what it feels like to face a player like R.A Dickey, who throws an 85 mph knuckleball. “I would try to have a game plan against a knuckleballer, and I kind of came to the conclusion that you can’t,” Alvarez said.
Another teammate asked about Alvarez’s experience with hecklers or obnoxious fans. “If you make an error at bat, they [hecklers] remind you and let you know, but if you do well it’s kind of like you bested everyone out there, and you feel invincible at times,” he said.
After the entire team spoke with Alvarez, the seniors remained on the Zoom call to have a more informal meeting, since Russo wanted them to converse with Alvarez in a more personal setting, he said. “That meeting was a lot more joking around, and [it was more] fun than the larger one in my opinion,” Khakee said.
Head of Athletics Robert Annunziata was also on the call and found the talk very engaging. “It was great to see Pedro,” Annunziata said. “Watching him talk about all aspects of baseball but predominantly hitting, was a really good thing to be a part of.”
The talk also showed team members that they have the potential to make it to the MLB, Perlman said. “If he was just a kid in New York City going to Horace Mann, any one of us could end up where he is.”
Another meeting with Alvarez is scheduled to occur with the school and all the other Ivy League baseball teams next Tuesday. “Another meeting would be awesome because it seemed like he was excited to be talking to younger players,” Perlman said.