YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — Not every Olympic dream ends in gold. Most don’t span ice and dirt, either.
Speedskater-turned-second baseman Eddy Alvarez’s journey didn’t need to apex atop an Olympic podium to go down in history.
Alvarez and the U.S. baseball team accepted their Olympic silver medals after losing the championship game 2-0 against Japan on Saturday night, capping a remarkable run for the 31-year-old Miami Marlins minor leaguer.
A silver medalist in 2014 at Sochi as part of the U.S. four-man short track team, Alvarez turned to baseball later that year — a path that ultimately led him back to the Games.
He was assured a second medal when the Americans beat South Korea in the semifinals Thursday, becoming just the third American and sixth Olympian with medals at the Winter and Summer Games.
The accomplishment left him sobbing in the dugout, keenly aware of and affected by the weight of his feat.
Gold, though, would’ve meant a little something more given the circumstances of his silver.
His short track team lost gold in the 5,000 meter relay to a foursome of Russians, three of whom were banned from the 2018 Pyeongchang Games amid accusations that Russia ran a state-backed doping program.
“I won’t lie to you. I do feel cheated. There probably was some suspicion going on there,” Alvarez said Thursday.
He called Saturday “a little redemption trip,” hoping gold might wash out some of that Sochi silver disappointment.
Not that he’ll be hanging his head with another silver around his neck.
Alvarez joined Eddie Eagen (boxing in 1920, bobsled in 1932) and Lauryn Williams (track and field in 2004 and 2012, bobsled in 2014) as the only Americans with medals from Summer and Winter Games.
The others are Norway’s Jacob Tullin Thams (ski jumping in 1924 and yachting in 1936), East Germany/Germany’s Christa Luding-Rothenburger (speed skating in 1984, ’88 and ’92 and sprint cycling in 1988) and Canada’s Clara Hughes (cycling in 1996 and speed skating in 2002, ’06 and ’10).
Alvarez came into the gold medal game hitting .350 with three RBIs in the tournament. He had one of the Americans’ six hits in the final, a night they couldn’t solve a quintet of pros from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.
An otherwise anonymous Triple-A infielder with the Miami Marlins, Alvarez was among the marquee names at these Olympics, carrying the American flag along with basketball player Sue Bird at the opening ceremony. A tattoo of the Olympic rings poked out from under his uniform on his left bicep as he played, and it was fitting that the leadoff hitter was the first American to receive his silver on the podium — teammate Eric Filia draped it around the infielder’s neck for him.
The moment capped a wild 12-month span for the Miami native. He made his major league debut Aug. 5, 2020, after a COVID-19 outbreak that ravaged the Marlins’ roster.
Exactly a year later, he was sobbing in the dugout at Yokohama Baseball Stadium, assured at least of a silver medal.