Isabel “Lefty” Alvarez


Isabel “Lefty” Alvarez

The Improbable Life of a Cuban American Baseball Star

Kat D. Williams

208 pages
23 photographs, 2 appendixes, index


May 2020


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2020


$16.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
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May 2020


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About the Book

A very good read. It is not only about a baseball player in the AAGPBL, but also about a young Latino woman who makes good in America.—Lance Smith, Guy Who Reviews Sports Books

Kat D. Williams traces Isabel “Lefty” Alvarez’s life from her childhood in Cuba, where she played baseball with the boys on the streets of El Cerro, to her reinvention as a professional baseball player and American citizen. Isabel “Lefty” Alvarez gives the reader a look into Alvarez’s young life in Cuba during the turbulent years leading up to Castro’s revolution, as political differences tore families apart. Alvarez came to the United States at fifteen, speaking no English, and experienced the challenge of immigration as her mother pushed her to become a professional athlete in her newly adopted country.

Through all the changes and upheaval, Alvarez found acceptance and success as a player in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, where she was called “the Rascal of El Cerro.” After the league ended, Alvarez struggled with an undiagnosed learning disability that limited her options. She persevered and reinvented herself as a factory worker but later battled alcoholism and depression until baseball returned to her life and she was able to reconnect with her former teammates and become part of the active community of former players.

Alvarez’s life story illustrates the struggle and strength of a young Latina immigrant and the importance of sport to her transition to her new country and her enduring identity.

Author Bio

Kat D. Williams is a professor of American history at Marshall University. She is board president of the International Women’s Baseball Center and the author of The All-American Girls after the AAGPBL: How Playing Pro Ball Shaped Their Lives.


"The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) operated from 1943 through 1954, giving over six hundred female athletes the opportunity to play professional baseball. Isabel "Lefty" Alvarez was one of those women, and Marshall University Professor Kat D. Williams tells her remarkable story, revealing the courageous struggle Lefty overcame to make it in America."—Rob Sheinkopf, NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture

"A very good read. It is not only about a baseball player in the AAGPBL, but also about a young Latino woman who makes good in America."—Lance Smith, Guy Who Reviews Sports Books

"One cannot help but root for the dark-haired, left-handed 15-year-old pitcher, who came to the United States with hardly any education and no command of the language. . . . Lefty Alvarez is truly in a league of her own."—Bob D'Angelo, Sports Bookie

“The history of baseball in Cuba is well documented, with the exception of the island’s women who played the game. Kat Williams’s nuanced examination of how baseball informed, indeed transformed, the life and prospects of Isabel “Lefty” Alvarez fills that gap. Set against an ample background on Cuban political, social, and sports history, Williams demonstrates what a love for baseball can mean to a young woman.”—Jean Hastings Ardell, author of Breaking into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    
Chapter 1. El Cerro    
Chapter 2. Refashioning Lefty    
Chapter 3. The Passion of the Island    
Chapter 4. Coming to America    
Chapter 5. Life after the League    
Chapter 6. A League of Her Own    
Appendix I. Lefty Alvarez Baseball Statistics    
Appendix II. Women’s Baseball Time Line    

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