A’s executive Haley Alvarez began career journey at Hall
Currently the assistant director of scouting and baseball operations for the Oakland Athletics, Alvarez has blazed an amazing path to success, having already worked for three big league teams and being profiled in both The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal in the last few years. And in spite of any slights endured as a woman in a male-dominated industry, she admits to using them as motivation in her ascent up the industry ladder.
During a recent telephone interview from Mesa, Ariz., where the A’s hold Spring Training camp, the 27-year-old Alvarez talked about a baseball journey that first began with keeping score while attending San Francisco Giants games with her father.
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Looking back on her career, Alvarez, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce from the McIntire School, attributes her time with University of Virginia baseball team as an important springboard. The impact can be, in part, traced to the squad’s use of technology, most importantly the TrackMan software.
Another turning point was when the A’s, soon after her internship with the franchise ended, sponsored her for scout school, one of only two women among the 60 attendees.
“Definitely, that was exciting for me when (A’s GM) David Forst gave me the opportunity because after my internship I was a little in shock that there wouldn’t be a fulltime role for me at that time. I think that was the first understanding that I had that it wasn’t necessarily me but just the timing within the sport that allowed to get those opportunities,” Alvarez said. “For them to sponsor me took a lot and kind of lifted me back up bit.
“I also made so many connections there that are valuable; people across the game that you interact with still and it continues to grow. It all started in scout school. People working in different areas of the game and you learn a lot from them, no matter how much time they spent in big league baseball.”
Perseverance has allowed Alvarez to succeed in a male-dominated field, with the A’s considered among the most progressive franchises in pursuing diverse hires. Frequently, while on a scouting assignment, she’ll be the only woman among the fraternity.
“I think from a front office standpoint I’ve always been surrounded by supportive people. That’s been really great for me, especially my time with the A’s. It’s been great that they’ve offered me the ability to go out and scout games right away and take on that responsibility,” Alvarez aid. “We’re also a big team about representing yourself in the right way, so the fact that they want to represent themselves with a woman at these games is really exciting.
“I’m no different than a lot of the other guys in the office. A lot of them didn’t play past high school baseball, or any baseball. I think the funny thing is that we all pretty much have the same knowledge and background – the difference is just the looks. I just think all the actions for women are definitely looked at. People are waiting for you to make a wrong move, like when you’re out scouting games and someone thinks you are wearing the wrong thing.
“People might be quicker to doubt your skills, which is a little bit hard and I think it puts a lot more stress on us to be perfect. But it also kind of lights a fire under me to do better and to work harder to kind of prove myself in the industry.”
Though stories of misogyny and sexual harassment of women in the game sometimes make headlines, Alvarez said she hasn’t been discouraged.
“I think that the support from my family as well as from people surrounding me in the front office really makes a difference. Also connecting with other women that are in the game, not necessarily the same position, but that are dealing with similar issues,” Alvarez said. “Some of the issues in baseball are similar to issues in other industries as well. I think it’s a male/female issue in the workplace versus a baseball/female issue.”
As for being a role model, Alvarez hopes to pave a path for women to be able to come into the game easier.
“I was in touch with Kim Ng when I was working at the commissioner’s office and we’ve stayed in touch, but it’s really hard to find a female mentor in the game right now,” Alvarez said. “I hope to be a role model for women trying to get in and someone that they can lean on as they try to pave their way in the industry.”
In November 2020, Ng became big league baseball’s first female general manager when she was hired by the Miami Marlins.
According to Alvarez, being named a major league team’s general manager would be a dream come true.
“I won’t really know exactly where my path leads me to get there in baseball – there’s no straight line to the position – but I’m just enjoying right now getting all the experience I can in the game,” Alvarez said. “I hope that helps me reach that goal ultimately of becoming a female general manager.”
Bill Francis is the senior research and writing specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum