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HIGH LIFE : Batboy to the Stars : Santa Ana High Sophomore Represents Boys Clubs of America at All-Star Game

July 14, 1989|LYNDA KIM | Lynda Kim, a recent graduate of Cypress High School, is a regular contributor to High Life

What was it like to watch Monday's All-Star game batting practice from the dugout? How about watching Tuesday's game from the commissioner's box, seated next to Hall of Famer Billy Williams?

Ask Eddie Alvarez, a 15-year-old sophomore at Santa Ana High, who was chosen to represent the Boys Clubs of America as Celebrity Batboy at the All-Star batting practice and game at Anaheim Stadium.

Alvarez was selected batboy because of his interest in baseball and his service to the Boys Club, according to Mike Gilmore, program director at the Boys' Club of Santa Ana.

"He's a good role model for younger kids," Gilmore said. "He helps to organize different special events. Also, he's a real big baseball fan and an avid player."

Alvarez serves in the Keystone Club, a community service organization for which Gilmore is adviser.

"Alvarez is one kid from one boys' club representing all the kids from all the boys' clubs in the country," Gilmore said of the All-Star honor.

"When I first found out that I was going to be the batboy, I was surprised," Alvarez said. "I wasn't expecting anything like this at all. It was an honor for me, because they only chose one person."

On Monday, before arriving at Anaheim Stadium to watch batting practice, Alvarez and Kimberly Poarch, 11, of Granite Falls, N.C., who was selected Celebrity Batgirl, and former players Williams and Rod Carew visited Childrens Hospital of Orange County. Alvarez and Poarch talked with patients while Williams and Carew signed autographs.

At batting practice that afternoon, Alvarez accepted a $50,000 check from Leaf Candy, a major sponsor of the All-Star event, on behalf of the Boys Clubs of America.

"I would really like to thank the Leaf Candy company for giving me the opportunity to have participated in all the great events of the All-Star game," Alvarez said.

He was also presented with a complimentary Angels T-shirt and cap and a bat, which he got autographed by the All-Stars.

During the contests for home run hitters, outfield-to-catcher relay throws and catcher accuracy throws, Alvarez sat in the National League dugout and chatted with Dodgers second baseman Willie Randolph and A's first baseman Mark McGwire.

The players "treated me nicely. They asked me how old I was and congratulated me for being chosen as the batboy," Alvarez said. "I thought I was going to be nervous, but I wasn't. When I was sitting in the dugout talking with the players and looking at them practice, I was real excited."

On Tuesday, Alvarez attended a luncheon with Williams and Poarch at Anaheim Stadium before the game, which he watched from the box of A. Bartlett Giamatti, commissioner of baseball.

"It was great because you were right down at the field next to the dugout and first base," said Alvarez, who then offered this perspective of the American League's 5-3 victory:

"I thought that the National League should have won, because they had much better players."

Alvarez started playing baseball at age 7, when he also joined the Boys' Club of Santa Ana. He was encouraged in the sport by Floyd Nelson, the club's sports director. This summer, Alvarez played infield and hit .345 for the Garden Grove Pony League A's.

Coming from a family of 10, Alvarez said he turned to baseball as his personal means of expression.

"All of (my brothers and sisters) are either much older or much younger, so I play baseball to be with people my own age," he said. "I'm caught in the middle in our family, so I do my own stuff. I'm the only one in my family who plays sports, but my parents still support me. They come to watch me play and ask me how practice was and stuff."

Alvarez said he has no favorite team, only favorite players.

"I really don't like any particular team at one time, but I like certain players on certain teams," he said. "I like Angels pitcher Jim Abbott and Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith right now because they're good players."

Alvarez said he likes playing baseball because "there's so many things you can do. You can get a base hit, make double plays, steal bases. . . . I like playing third base the best, because you get the most balls."

But Alvarez is not planning a career in baseball.

"It's hard to make the pros now, because there are so many people playing baseball," he said. "I want to go to college so I can get a good career. Being a reporter seems like a good job, because you get to travel a lot and you get to write about sports."

Aside from helping him get to the All-Star game, Alvarez said, the club has done many good things for him and boys and girls his age.

The club "affected my life a lot," he said. "The neighborhood I live in isn't very nice. If the Boys Club wasn't located in the area, I would probably be selling drugs like all the people around me. We're in the middle of all the bad things that go on, but we (club members) are not involved with any of it."

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