Linda Alvarado: The First Latino Owner in MLB

"My whole life, I have been told I don't look the part,” recounts Colorado Rockies co-owner Linda Alvarado, speaking to La Vida Baseball’s Jennifer Mercedes at the 2021 Future’s Game.

As a Latina, she says she has been judged for not fitting the typical look, noting "I had blue eyes and peach skin."

As a woman starting a business in the male-dominated field of general contracting, men never let Alvarado feel like anything less than an outsider.

Alvarado, though, never let these perceptions derail her drive and passion, tossing aside every stereotype and shattering every glass ceiling put in her path.

In our exclusive La Vida Baseball interview – part of the Locker Room Talk: In the Field series –Alvarado, founder, president, and CEO of Alvarado Construction, Inc., explains that the drive to achieve through hard work was omnipresent.

Alvarado recalls applying for a groundskeeping job and immediately being questioned for applying to such a traditionally-male role.

"Do you not understand you're going to be working with all of these guys,” Alvarado remembers the interviewer saying, “you're going to do the heavy lifting, you're going to be in the sun, and you'll never get to wear those shoes to work."

Alvarado saw it as a challenge and a welcome respite from the requirements of the jobs women were usually steered into. "Let me get this right. I don't have to wear these painful shoes? I don't need to go to the gym? I'm going to get a tan."

With that same iconoclastic determination, Alvarado advanced through the ranks of the broad-shouldered world of construction. The following summer she applied for a job in construction management. Rather than putting her name on the application, she jotted down only her initials. This way, she figured, the company would have no reason to disqualify her from the role right away just for being a woman. She admits, "I would have never got there using my first name."

She landed the job and it came with a boss who was more interested in hitting the links that supervising job sites. So, Alvarado was able to roll up her sleeves and learn intimately what it takes to run a successful, efficient construction project.

The more exposure to the construction world she gained, the more inspired she became to pursue her own projects. However, this newfound exposure was not without naysayers and skeptics.

"A guy put his arm around me, one of the architects, and said, 'What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?',” says Alvarado. Those who questioned her credibility only served to fuel her drive to fill a void in an industry sorely-lacking in female representation.

After her attempts to acquire a bank loan proved unsuccessful, Alvarado says it was her parents who borrowed against their home at steep interest rates to help her achieve her dream. It was a risk she will never forget. "I paid them back, but I could never repay them.”

These early experiences set the stage for Alvarado’s foray into MLB. In 1991, with her construction firm a monumental success, Alvarado became part of the ownership group for National League expansion team, the Colorado Rockies. But there were still obstacles to surmount.

Linda Alvarado with Colorado Rockies first baseman Andrés Galarraga at Coors Field in the 1990's.
Linda Alvarado with Colorado Rockies first baseman Andrés Galarraga at Coors Field in the 1990's. /

"I spent most of six months passing a referendum in six counties to build a new major league stadium,” Alvarado says. That initiative – and her hard work – ultimately landed Denver a Major League Baseball team that opened their first season in 1993 at the newly constructed Coors Field.

As she looks back and reflects on all of the experiences that led her to become the first Latino owner in Major League Baseball history, she can't help but think of the generations of Latinos and Latinas that contributed to her ascent.

"I'm really 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."