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Alvarado makes mom proud

From left, Gilbert Alvarado Jr.; Donna Alvarado, mother; and Gilbert Alvarado Sr., father. (Submitted Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

If it seems Goddard baseball coach Gilbert Alvarado is as cool as the other side of the pillow, it’s because he was that way as a kid. His mother, Donna Alvarado, said he was the best baby. He hardly moved when she was pregnant with him and he slept through most of his first two years of life.

“He was the kind of baby that I had to wake him up to eat,” Donna Alvarado said. “If I didn’t wake him up he would have slept through eating. He was the best baby, he was always easy going and no trouble.”

Donna Alvarado and her husband, Gilbert Alvarado Sr., are not that easy going. She doesn’t know where he gets his unflappable demeanor from.

Donna remembers when Gilbert Alvarado Jr. started walking he would run around the house and ask for a scrambled egg and then she would fix him two and then wouldn’t see him for a week.

She also doesn’t know where he gets his love for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Donna said that her son took a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with him to school for lunch every day until his eighth-grade year. Gilbert Alvarado Jr. wouldn’t let her fix him anything else to eat for lunch. In fact, he still loves peanut butter and jelly to this day.

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Getting cut

Gilbert Alvarado in 1994 at 11 years old. (Submitted Photo)

The Alvarado family retired from the military and moved to Roswell in his freshman year. Gilbert Alvarado Jr. was always thin, and his parents were constantly trying to put weight on him.

Jr. tried out for the baseball team and was cut. His mother asked him what he was going to do, and he told her that he was going to run cross-country with his buddy. Donna thought great, we are trying to fatten you up and you’re going to be taking weight off.

The family got him in baseball when they lived in Georgia. Donna remembers him and his sister, Barbara, were in the outfield clinging to each other because they didn’t know anyone else.

Once Jr. started playing baseball at age 7, he loved it. It became the passion of his life. He played in the outfield and his father would hit balls to him. He loved pitching. Being a military family, they were close with each other. His family was his first group of coaches.

The family built a mound in their front yard, and his dad would sit on a bucket and have a can of pop to the side. Sr. would tell Jr. if you knock over the can, you’re in trouble. The family would practice together, and his mom would be the ball shagger. She would walk around the yard and pick up balls during batting practice.

“That kid wasn’t good at baseball instantly,” Donna Alvarado said. “What Gilbert Jr. has is a work ethic. He would not give up. I don’t care what obstacle was put in front of him, he was not going to give up, he was going to play baseball. Baseball was going to be in his life in some form or fashion.”

Late bloomer

He started playing at Noon Optimist and was an outfielder with the Pirates. Jr. loved baseball so much that it didn’t bother him not playing varsity until his senior year. His best teammates Cougar Burke and Justin Villareal also didn’t play until their senior year. In his senior year, Jr. hit .330.

After playing his senior year, Jr. wanted to play college ball. His parents took him to Ron Hunt Baseball Academy. After the camp, Hunt told Sr. that Jr. was good enough to play at the next level but not at the Division I level.

“After high school,” Donna said, “we kind of made it our goal to find some place for him to play.”

Gilbert Alvarado at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. (Submitted Photo)

Jr. would eventually find his angel from heaven, he was playing in a men’s league. Mike Cuellar told him about a tryout at Eastern New Mexico. Gilbert went and then coach Phil Clabaugh invited him to be a utility player his freshman year.

Donna said that Clabaugh was about baseball and turning his players into men. The one thing that stuck with her was Clabaugh would tell his players whether they played for him one year or four years, they would have to earn their positions.

“Mom was always there for me,” Gilbert Alvarado Jr. said. “She’d pick me up and dust me off. Her and my dad were the perfect dichotomy of “walk it off” and “nurturing.”

Donna’s favorite memory of her son as a player was when Goddard was playing Roswell at Joe Bauman Stadium. The team was trailing by one run with a runner on first and second.

He hit a pitch so hard that both outfielders gave chase to it and they lost it in the lights. The ball fell between them as the runners scored to win the game. Jr. didn’t realize the game was over, and was digging for third base as he teammates were running out to meet him and carry him off the field.

“I think back a lot,” Donna said, “to (Gilbert Jr.) the little guy, who got cut his freshman year, and didn’t play varsity until his senior year. And now he comes back and is the head baseball coach from the high school he graduated from. We are beside ourselves, it’s quite a story.”

Make me proud

Before Jr. and his sister, Barbara, would leave the house, his mother and father would tell them: “Make me proud, don’t do anything to disgrace the family name.”

Donna said it doesn’t matter where you send your kids to school. Public school, private school, you have to hold them accountable and make them responsible for their actions. She said that Gilbert never received a spanking from them.

During graduate school at Eastern New Mexico University, while finishing his master’s degree, Ruidoso called and asked to interview him.

During the interview, Ruidoso offered him the job. After spending eight years there, he was hired by Goddard as the Economics teacher and head baseball coach. Under his leadership, the Rockets have played for a state championship and been to the semifinals.

“The thing I love most,” Donna said, “is how he is trying to help kids be better in life. Even in the classroom, it’s all about being responsible for yourself, knowing how to make a living and being careful with your money.

“Gilbert Jr. has the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines come in to talk to kids in his Economics class. He (Gilbert Jr.) wants his students to know there are options out there and they have a responsibility to work and take care of themselves. His goal is to make kids successful in life.”

Gilbert Jr. said his mom found a way to budget money in hard times for him to chase his dream to play baseball. He said his parents gave up a lot to get him to where he is now in life.

“I am forever grateful to mom,” Gilbert Jr. said. “My dad would throw batting practice and she would walk back and forth for hours helping pick up the balls I hit.”

Alvarado’s parents see as many games as possible each baseball season.

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.

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