By Will McClure
With the Stamford Bulldog baseball regular season quickly winding down, the Bulldogs prepare to play their last home game of the season against Hawley on Tuesday, April 18th. However, before the first pitch, the Bulldogs will take the time to honor former Bulldog Eric Alvarez as his jersey number will formally be retired along with the installation of a sign on the outfield wall. Alvarez served a major role in the early years of Bulldog baseball for all four years of his high school career from 1995 to 1998 before moving on to play for Hardin-Simmons University, and then become a baseball coach himself before he tragically lost his life in November 2005. With his number having been unofficially retired for several years and after discussion that lasted for a few years between current baseball head coach Jeremy West and former coach Lannie Templeton, the time was right to honor Alvarez.
Coach West stated that this honor had been something that has been talked about since Wendeborn Field had been renovated, with both West and Templeton wanting something permanent to be added to the field to recognize Alvarez. Informally, West said that he and Templeton before him had simply not used Alvarez's #15. Templeton even said that when he would order jerseys, he never order the #15 and, when he received the number accidentally one year, quickly put it aside to maintain the informal retiring of the number.
A multi-sport athlete, Alvarez spent all four years of his high school career playing baseball under Coach Templeton, who will formally make the presentation to Alvarez's family on the 18th, where Alvarez played shortstop and pitched and became an integral part in the first baseball district titles for the program.
While he displayed his passion for baseball, Alvarez was also an exceptional tennis player, moving back and forth between the sports. However, he would always come back to baseball, a sport that he expressed his desire to coach one day.
"He loved the game," Templeton said. "He would practice when everyone had gone home and always wanted to be a coach...One thing that sticks out in my mind was how meticulous he was with his equipment. He was always very well dressed and mannered. He was very quiet, not really outspoken, a lot of his actions were those on the field." Alvarez's attitude towards the game was always positive and, when he got his opportunity to coach in Rotan, he would be well respected by his fellow coaches and his players where he stressed the fundamentals, never being "flashy" about the game, but always getting his point across. West stated that he had the opportunity to coach against him and got to know him when Alvarez was in Rotan in 2003, seeing him on a different level as he guided his players.
After a successful high school career, Alvarez moved on to play for Hardin-Simmons University, where he graduated in 2004 while also working for Rotan in 2003 where he would be the head baseball coach, head junior high football coach, junior high girls' basketball coach and assistant high school football coach. Even though he had achieved his dream of becoming a baseball coach, fate would have other plans as on November 6, 2005, Eric Alvarez would pass away after an automobile accident in Runnels County. Templeton said that he still remembers the day when he received the news of Alvarez's passing.
"I was in the deer blind when I got the phone call and immediately left and came back," Templeton said. "I had talked to him that week and he was telling me he was going to San Angelo to get some equipment for the upcoming year." Templeton went on to say that it is always tough to lose a young man like him and that Alvarez was someone that he admired in his passion to be a coach and that he was an all-around good kid that his teammates admired and was a pleasure to coach on the field.
Now, on Tuesday, April 18th, Eric Alvarez will take his rightful and permanent place at Wendeborn Field with the unveiling of a permanent memorial on the outfield wall and the official retiring of the #15. With his family in attendance to receive the honor on his behalf, Eric Alvarez will now be forever remembered every time a Stamford Bulldog takes the field.