The unforgettable meals of Altagracia
By César Augusto Márquez
These days, Altagracia Alvino lives a second motherhood, one that she lived a little more than two decades ago when she would join her son Vladimir Guerrero when he was in the minor leagues.
Lots has happened since, considering her son will join the immortals in the National Baseball Hall of Fame when he is inducted this Sunday.
But these days she’s serving as a guide to her talented grandson, Vladimir Jr., one of baseball’s top prospects.
“It’s something that I’m enjoying very much,” she said. “Since I would accompany Vladimir, I enjoyed being with him preparing food that he and a lot of his friends liked so much.”
Taking Care of Vlad
Her gray hair covers a life of sacrifices in which she had to travel to Venezuela and Colombia to work to support her family.
“It was a very difficult era,” she said. “But thank God that sacrifice was worth it. All my children forged ahead and now I can enjoy my grandchildren.”
Altagracia smiles as she remembers what Vladimir liked the most in his era as an active player and even now when they’re together.
“Vladimir eats everything. He doesn’t have any problems there,” she said. “He is a big meat eater. He’s a carnivore. But sometimes he asks me to cook vegetables for him.
“He’ll tell me, ‘Mama, prepare me my vegetables, make me some remolacha [beet].’ He really likes that meal. When he still played baseball he didn’t just ask me to make food for him. Actually all of his teammates also ate, whether they were Latinos or North Americans.”
There was one exception for her dear Mikea, as Guerrero is known in his inner circle. He doesn’t eat shrimp because they make him sick. He ate too many shrimp once and now he hates them.
The hands that raised the Guerrero Alvino family are famous, especially among those who played during Guerrero’s career.
Whether teammates or opponents, they knew they would eat Altagracia’s food when they faced her son.
“It’s a shame when a Latin American player says that he doesn’t know her because she fed all the players,” Ozzie Guillen said.
Melvin Mora, a member of the Orioles’ Hall of Fame, remembers Altagracia’s legacy.
“His mom had a commitment to all the players,” Mora said. “She didn’t care what country they came from. She promised that when her son signed with a team she wouldn’t rest until she gave every Latino player a good meal, whether they played with or against her son because some folks helped them at one time.”
Mora is adamant that the mother of two major leaguers – Vladimir and Wilton – is a major reason Latino players never went hungry when they were in the same city as her sons.
Taking Care of the Next Vladi (Jr)
Vladimir Jr. appears destined for greatness. He’s the Toronto Blue Jays’ top prospect.
His grandmother sees him as another son.
“I accompany Vladimir because he’s another son, my chiquitico,” she said. “He reminds me a lot of his father when he was that age.
“And you know the maternal instinct remains there. That doesn’t change over the years. He even has his father’s habits. Now I cook for his teammates.”
She might not cook this weekend because she’ll be busy in Cooperstown, N.Y., for the induction weekend at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Rest assured, she deserves a place among the greats as well.
Featured Image: Vladimir Guerrero Instagram