Eddy Alvarez joined rare company when the U.S. baseball team clinched a spot in Saturday's gold-medal game against Japan.
The 31-year-old second baseman is guaranteed to go home from Tokyo with a medal and will do no worse than silver. A U.S. win, of course, will secure gold. Whatever the color, it will be his second Olympic medal.
He didn't win his first in baseball or even during the Summer Games. He won a silver medal in Sochi in 2014 while skating on the short track with the men's 5,000-meter relay team. He's now just the third American ever to secure medals in both the Winter and Summer Olympics.
History of Olympians to win Summer, Winter medals
Eddie Eagen won boxing gold in 1920 in Antwerp. Twelve years later, he secured bobsledding gold at Lake Placid. More recently, Lauryn Williams won track gold in the 4×100 relay in London in 2012. Two years later, she secured silver in bobsledding at the same Sochi Games where Alvarez won his silver.
In fact, only two non-Americans have achieved the feat, making Alvarez the sixth Olympian ever to claim Winter and Summer hardware. Norway’s Jacob Tullin Thams won ski jumping gold in 1924 (Chamonix) and yachting silver in 1936 (Berlin).
East Germany’s Christa Luding-Rothenburger won two golds, a silver and a bronze in speed skating across three Olympics (Sarajevo, Calgary, Albertville) from 1984 to 1992. She also won track cycling silver at the Summer Games in Seoul in 1988, making her the only athlete to win medals in Winter and Summer Games in the same year.
Will Alavarez claim gold?
Alvarez would obviously like to join the rest of the multi-sport Olympians on this list by adding gold to his trophy case. His hot bat (.350 batting average, 3 RBIs in 5 games) has helped the Americans get this far. He logged a hit and an RBI in Team USA's 7-2 win over South Korea on Thursday to make the gold-medal game.
“I still can’t believe it," Alvarez told the Associated Press. "I know the job’s not done yet because at the end of the day, one of the only reasons why I came out here is for redemption, to win a gold medal.”
But it won't come easy. Japan is undefeated in Olympic play and handed USA its only loss on Tokyo, a 7-6 game in extra innings in pool play. Regardless of the outcome, Alvarez's place in Olympic history is secure.
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