Eddy Alvarez, one of the United States’ flag bearers for the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, surprised his parents – causing his mother’s eyes to fill with tears – as he led Team USA into the stadium to kick off the Games.
Alvarez, 31, is an infielder for the Miami Marlins organization. He got his start in professional baseball when the Chicago White Sox signed him to a minor league contract after the 2014 Major League Draft.
He and women’s basketball star Sue Bird were both selected to carry the American flag during the Parade of Nations to begin the Games. The two wore microphones during the ceremony and shared their emotions live during the broadcast.
“Oh my god, this is absolutely incredible,” Alvarez said, when asked how he felt. “Thank god that I have Sue here holding me up because I’m freaking out a little bit, guys, I’m not gonna lie.”
“But this is so emotional and I’m feeling the energy by my team now and it’s absolutely incredible, guys,” he told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie and Mike Tirico.
Eddy Alvarez and Sue Bird lead the USA during the Parade of Nations.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Tirico told Alvarez that they’d checked in with his parents watching from Doral, Florida, at which point Alvarez revealed that his comments would be coming as a surprise to his family.
“This is kind of a surprise for them because they had no idea that I was gonna be mic’d up, so I wanna give my wife, my son and my parents and everyone back home in Miami a shoutout,” he said.
The broadcast then flashed to a feed of his parents Mabel and Walter Alvarez, showing his mom’s hand over her mouth as tears welled in her eyes. His dad cheered along with the crowd chanting “Eddy! Eddy!” as Alvarez’s mom gestured to her ears, seeming to tell his father that she could hear their son.
Alvarez is seeking to become the third American ever to win both a Winter and Summer Olympics medal. He is also the first Winter Olympic athlete without Olympic baseball experience to play a game in the MLB.
Before his baseball career took shape, Alvarez first rose to fame at the Sochi Olympics when he won a silver medal in short track speed skating.
This year, he will compete on the U.S. baseball team, kicking things off against Israel on July 30.
Bird is a four-time WNBA champion and has helped guide Team USA to four Olympic gold medals in women’s basketball. This will be her fifth appearance at the Olympics.
Bird and the U.S. Women’s Basketball Team will look to win their seventh straight Olympic gold medal this summer. Their first game is set for July 27 against Nigeria.
The Opening Ceremony will be aired during primetime on NBC Friday evening.
Primetime Coverage: NBC, 7:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. PT
Stream on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app