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HomeNewsLocal newsUSVI Baseball Hero Alvin McBean Dies at 85

USVI Baseball Hero Alvin McBean Dies at 85

Alvin McBean, former pro ballplayer and local baseball legend, has died at 85. (Photo courtesy Sports, Parks, and Recreation Department)

Alvin McBean, the professional baseball player who dedicated much of his post-Major League career to young Virgin Islanders, died Wednesday. He was 85.

Alvin O’Neal McBean was remembered Thursday as the tireless cornerstone of local baseball, whose commitment to nurturing young talent left an enduring impact, including the name of the ballpark in Anna’s Retreat, said Calvert White, commissioner of the Sports, Parks, and Recreation Department.

“We mourn the loss of a dedicated individual who played a vital role in shaping baseball in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Alvin McBean’s commitment to not just Little League but all the children that traversed through the park named after him leaves an indelible mark, and his legacy will continue to inspire us all,” White said in a written statement.

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. said McBean was an inspiration to people fortunate enough to know him.

“McBean played an instrumental role in shaping the landscape of baseball in the U.S. Virgin Islands. His unwavering commitment to Little League and invaluable contributions to our community’s youth baseball programs have left an indelible mark on generations of aspiring athletes,” Bryan said in a written statement.

McBean was born Jan. 2, 1938, in Charlotte Amalie. Although he grew up next to a baseball field, he originally aspired to be a photojournalist. In 1957, the 19-year-old McBean took an assignment to photograph St. Thomas tryouts for the Pittsburgh Pirates. At the urging of his friends, McBean pitched, ran, and fielded balls for the scouts. He was shocked to learn he’d made the team. After time with the Pirates’ Columbus, Ohio, minor league team, a humble McBean said in a fascinating 1962 interview he was surprised to be called up to the big leagues.

After a disastrous first outing, McBean rallied to be a dominant reliever. The Sporting News named McBean National League Relief Pitcher of 1964. From 1961 to 1970, the right-hander recorded a 67-50 record with 63 saves and a 3.13 ERA. He even hit a home run in his second at bat.

McBean was the roommate of Baseball Hall Of Fame’s Roberto Clemente, playing in the 1963 Latino All-Star game with the Puerto Rican legend. McBean would play to local fans in Puerto Rico baseball leagues offseason. He met his wife, Olga Santos Negron, in Ponce’s Playa De Ponce.

He played almost his entire career with the Pirates save for brief stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the expansion team San Diego Padres. Fans and the Pittsburgh sporting press noted his flair on the ball field and affection for high fashion off it. A columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper reportedly called McBean “the funniest man I’ve ever seen in a baseball uniform.”

Back at home after his career, McBean became an employee of what was then known as the Bureau of Recreation in 1973. He remained with the local sports advocates for more than 30 years before retiring in January 2007.

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