SI Vault
Leo W. Banks
May 28, 1990
C�sar Octavio Alvarez's first two weeks in the U.S. were torture. When he arrived here in February 1988, he was a bashful 16-year-old sophomore at Tucson High. He had a chipped front tooth and could speak only a few words of English. At 6'1", 160 pounds, he was decidedly skinny, and he could do only two push-ups. When he joined the Tucson High baseball team, he carried a beat-up old glove, and his teammates laughed at him.
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May 28, 1990

Hail, C�sar! He's Throwing Smoke At Tucson High

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Although Alvarez recently signed a letter of intent to attend Arizona U in Tucson, playing big league ball is his goal. Papa Jos� says that he would like to see Tavo spend at least two years in college. But he adds that if his son is drafted high and the money is good, Tavo might sign. "If I play college baseball, I'd like to play here [in Tucson] because I know people and feel comfortable now, even though Mexico is still my home," says Alvarez.

Behind the leftfield fence at Cherry Field, home of the Badgers, is a bronze equestrian statue of Eusebio Kino, a 17th-century Jesuit priest and early settler of Arizona and northern Mexico. In a 1989 game against Santa Rita High, Alvarez hit a home run that sailed over the leftfield fence above the light tower, cleared a second fence, then an arroyo, and finally landed near the Kino statue.

Talk of the blast was all over town the next day. Just for the heck of it, with a TV crew on hand to film the search, two Tucson High players went looking for the ball. They found it well past the park area in a street intersection. "It had to have gone 500 feet," says Romero. "Nobody who was here that night can forget it."

But Alvarez doesn't think the homer was such a big deal. "I started running and looked up and saw it go behind the lights," he says, shrugging. "It was a pretty good hit."

Some say the ball almost hit Kino's horse on the backside. Think of it as one settler saying hello to another.

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