Palayan draws ‘field of dreams’ inspiration from baseball player
PALAYAN CITY—On April 21, Alfredo Olivares coached the Big League Palayan City to victory over Antipolo City, 22-4, in the fifth inning regulation game of the Philippine Series in Marikina City.
The next day, April 22, Olivares, 22, a former catcher of the National University (NU) baseball team from 2008 to 2013, signed a contract and got a visa to join the Shinano Grandserows, a semiprofessional team in the Baseball Challenge League of Japan.
“It’s somehow painful to leave the team of young, great people, but I have to face the new challenge that I consider a big break in my career,” said Olivares, who started coaching the Palayan team only on
April 1 on the invitation of his former coaches, Francisco Bartolome, Reynaldo Esguerra, Franklin Duldulao and Ronald Reyes, and Palayan Mayor Adrianne Mae Cuevas.
Mayor Cuevas, in a statement, said she wanted Olivares’ success to inspire other baseball hopefuls in this city.
The city government is currently helping young baseball players here achieve their dreams of making it big not only in the national, but also in the international baseball scene, her statement said.
Aside from helping provide equipment and uniforms to children involved in baseball, Mayor Cuevas said the city planned to build a baseball diamond that local baseball players would be proud of.
The city’s current baseball hero, Olivares, is the youngest in a brood of five. He was raised in Barangay Malate, started playing baseball in 2005 as a sophomore at the government-run Palayan City High School.
He received informal training from his siblings, playing on a vacant lot in their neighborhood. He continued playing even as he transferred to Roxy Lefforge Foundation Colleges, a private school.
But his early skills in the game denied him the joy of joining village-level summer field competitions, which most youths would want to experience in communities such as his. “They did not want me to join these leagues because I had been playing for our school team,” he said.
Olivares was born to a farming family. His parents, Alfredo Sr. and Zenaida, till a small parcel of land planted to vegetables. During harvest, his mother would sell their produce at the flea market in this city or at the Sangitan public market in nearby Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija province.
His family’s situation inspired Olivares to dream big by enrolling at NU, grabbing a five-year contract to play for the school in the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines. He was part of the NU team that emerged champion in the 2011-2012 season.
Olivares was also part of the Philippine team that received the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia in 2011.
With his stint in Japan, Olivares said he might not be able to finish his management course. “I would not allow this opportunity to pass,” he said.
Olivares said even Mayor Cuevas found the opportunity good for him that she helped him financially to join the two-week tryout that was held in Nagano, Japan, from March 30 to April 13.
“This is a new challenge that I am happy to face to ensure my family’s future,” Olivares said.
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