As the lockout drags on and the scheduled start of the 2022 season on March 31 appears to be in jeopardy, there isn’t a lot of baseball news to report. Instead, this is part 1 in a series that looks back at the people and events that helped the Rockies come into existence and call Denver, Colorado home.
Bringing a Major League baseball team to Colorado was no easy task. From when the National League announced it was adding two teams in 1989 to when the Rockies took the field for their first game on April 5, 1993 at Shea Stadium vs. the New York Mets, millions of dollars and just as many moving pieces all had to come together to make it happen.
One of the most important moves came when Linda Alvarado, a Denver businesswoman who had built a multi-million-dollar construction company from the foundation up, joined the ownership group.
Of the many requirements to earn the expansion team, one was paying a $95 million franchise fee. The other was compiling a diverse ownership team.
A Latina from New Mexico, Alvarado grew up in a sports family in a time when women didn’t have many options in sports or selecting a career path. Luckily, Alvarado is all about smashing stereotypes with a sledgehammer.
She played sports with her brothers. She high jumped in high school, even after being told that girls can’t high jump. After getting an academic scholarship to Pomona College in California, she applied for a job on campus with the grounds crew. She was told that girls should work in the library and cafeteria. She wouldn’t back down and forged a path that would lead to starting her own business, Alvarado Construction in 1976.
Denied bank loans and contract gigs for being a woman, Alvarado’s parents used their adobe small home in New Mexico to secure a $2,500 loan with 25% interest to finance their daughter’s business. She later learned to use her initials on resumes and construction bids to bypass the sexism. She persevered through endless discrimination, insults, and harassment.
Alvarado started small with sidewalk projects and bus stops on the way to a construction powerhouse that would go on to build Denver International Airport, Sports Authority Field (now Empower Field) at Mile High, Ocean Journey (the Denver aquarium), the Colorado Convention Center Expansion, and many more. According to Forbes’ 2021 calculations, Alvarado’s net worth is $230 million, “which makes her one of the nation’s 100 richest self-made women.”
Flashing back to 1991, then Colorado Governor Roy Romer was tasked with trying to recruit an ownership team. He called Alvarado and set up a meeting at the Brown Palace to pitch the idea. He was looking for someone who was up for taking a risk, being heavily involved, and, as Alvarado said in an interview on YouTube with La Vida Baseball, “write a big check.”
Alvarado’s first date with her now-husband, Robert, was at Dodgers game. In 2021, Alvarado told Forbes that “baseball is in my blood.” She had the entrepreneur skills. She had the baseball love. She was all in.
The president of the National League at the time, Bill White, called Alvarado and told her that her role in the Rockies ownership group was a gamechanger. The diversity met what MLB was looking for and it would make history: Alvarado would become the first Latino, male or female, to be a partial owner of an MLB team.
The ownership group was approved and the Rockies cleared a big hurdle in becoming a reality. Alvarado was on the field when the Rockies played their first game in Denver on April 9, 1993 at Mile High Stadium. Once again, she was on a field surrounded by men, but this time it was in a stadium she helped build and with a team she helped bring to life.
In La Vida Baseball’s video, Alvarado explains that one of her best memories was getting a letter a few weeks after that home opener from another Hispanic woman, who said seeing Alvarado on the field on that historic day brought tears to her eyes. They were tears of joy as she realized the possibilities Alvarado embodied, especially for young Latinas. Now that they could see it, they could be it.
When reflecting on her impact, Alvarado told La Vida Baseball, “I’m proud of being a Latina, but it’s really who we are as Latinas and Latinos in community involvement and not just being a member, but getting involved in leadership, not for ego, but to help other people. And I really think that that DNA makes me very proud to be a Latina.”
While her business endeavors have affected many across Colorado and beyond, Alvarado also heavily influenced the Rockies on the field. In that same La Vida Baseball video, there is an image of an autographed picture of Alvarado and one of the all-time great Rockies, Carlos González. Cargo signed it saying, “To Linda, Thank you! You make me a better person and player.”
Alvarado is still the president and CEO of Alvarado Construction and she also co-owns and is the president of Palo Alto Inc., a franchise company that owns over 250 Yum! Brand restaurants like Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC.
Alvarado played a big part in All-Star Game festivities in 2021 and attends the majority of home games each season for the Rockies. She’s a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, among many other honors and accomplishments. In a Denver Business Journal article, Alvarado expressed a clear goal. While she blazed the trail, she is still waiting for others to come along.
“I don’t think it’s an accomplishment if I remain the only one to do it,” Alvarado said.
With women taking their rightful places as coaches, in research and development departments, and in scouting operations and beyond, hopefully, it won’t be long before Alvarado has company on the trail.
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In a sassy rebuke of the lockout and lack of progress on a deal between MLB and the MLBPA, Ken Rosenthal’s frustration jumps off the screen. Instead of the hope and promise of a new season, fans are Rothenthal mirrors fan angst that the two sides only have three days to come to a deal before the season could be delayed. Rosenthal tries to throw out some numbers of where compromises could begin, but also realizes that “no one listens to a baseball writer.”
With the lack of baseball news, there’s a least one member for the Rockies the team can tweet about. Here’s what Dinger has been up to in the locked-out offseason:
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