June 2016: The Mets chose Alonso in the second round, out of the Univ. of Florida.
As a high school third baseman at Plant High School in Tampa, Alonso went undrafted. After three years at the University of Florida, he was swinging a hot bat at the right time as the 2016 draft approached. And the Mets picked him in the 2nd round, the 64th player chosen. And Peter signed for $909,200, via scout Jon Updike.
In 2017, Peter was hit by a pitch in his sixth game at Class A Advanced St. Lucie, suffering a broken left hand that kept him out for six weeks. He struggled at the plate after he returned and entered the break with a .167/.217/.269 line with two homers in 21 games.
So he and his girlfriend headed a few hours south to Key West to visit Duval Street and the Ernest Hemingway Home, get some fishing in, and just generally not think about baseball for a bit.
"I needed an opportunity to wipe the memory bank clean, refresh mentally and hit the restart button. I was happy I had the chance to do it because I really needed it."
But even before the injury, he admitted he couldn't get comfortable to begin 2017, not in his first Spring Training nor the first handful of games in the FSL.
"I definitely put pressure on myself being my first full year," he said. "It's a new environment, and then you add in some adversity with the injury and performance. I call it my 'Figure It Out' Year."
It wasn't until after the break and the trip to Key West that the season lived up to that moniker. Upon his return, Alonso got to work with St. Lucie manager Chad Kreuter and hitting coach Luis Natera on developing a routine for getting comfortable in the box as soon as possible. They focused on getting in the cage, dialing his swing back when necessary, working off a tee and meeting the ball at the right angle to make consistent, hard contact.
"I had to compartmentalize to get my mind off the struggles. I could stand people maybe thinking, 'Dammit, Pete's up.' When things are going that bad, people are going to get frustrated, and it can be tough to get out there. I've never been known to dip below .200, like ever. I wanted to hit the panic button, but I'm proud of myself for getting out.
"Mentally, I'm a tough son of a b----. After I hurt my hand, I was hitting .150-something at one point, and that was incredibly difficult on me, but I finished at .286. It was rough. Not only was it the injury, but I was struggling even after coming back. After the All-Star break, I had to claw my way back one step at a time. Whether I did well or poorly, I had to flush it. Make each game its own thing. Isolate it. I can't think about .300 when I have a game that day, but once I got rolling, there was a kind of desperation to show all that was past me." (Sam Dykstra - MiLB.com - 2/23/2018)
In 2017, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Alonso as the 13th-best prospect in the Mets organization. And he moved all the way up to #4 in the winter before 2018 spring training. He was moved up to #2, behind only SS Andres Gimenez.
July 2018: Alonso represented the Mets at the All-Star Futures Game. He clobbered a homer that sailed over the left-field foul pole at 113.6 mph, an uncharted exit velocity for a ball hit so high.
Then in the Arizona Fall League he turned around a 103 mph fastball for a homer to center field.
September 12, 2018: Alonso won the Sterling Minor League Player of the Year Award, for a season that saw him hit .285 with 36 homers and 119 RBIs at Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas.
Peter is soft-spoken, intelligent, and just a very nice young man.
As Pete and four others finished taking their batting practice hacks the eve before Opening Day, Mets manager Mickey Callaway called them aside and told them the last flight to Syracuse would leave in less than two hours. He paused, for effect. Then he said none of them would be on it.
“I got misty-eyed,” said Alonso, who became the seventh rookie to make his Major League debut on Opening Day in Mets history. “Everyone was like, ‘Don’t cry, Pete!’ I was wearing sunglasses at the time, thankfully. But yeah, I was beyond excited. I can’t really explain it in words. It’s just the most incredible feeling in the world.”
“He had this look on his face,” Callaway said. “The best way I can describe it is, I’ve never seen this look before. Like, ‘All of my hard work has paid off.’ That was a pretty cool look. Up till the last minute, he’s so humble, he truly didn’t understand he was on the team until we told him. It was a great moment.”
So excited was Alonso that he woke up naturally at 6 a.m. the following morning. When he arrived at Nationals Park, Alonso immediately changed into a full suit of Mets gear, unwilling to linger in street clothes. On the lineup card was an immediate test: Alonso was slated to bat second against Max Scherzer. And while he finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against the three-time Cy Young Award winner, chasing a slider well out of the strike zone in his first at-bat, Alonso rebounded to single up the middle in his final plate appearance.
Afterward, the ball rested on a shelf in Alonso’s locker. He planned to date and sign it, and snap it into a case. “I guess now I can say I’m really a Major League Baseball player,” Alonso said. “I’m part of the club now.”
With club membership, of course, comes a high degree of difficulty. For the foreseeable future, Alonso is slated to start nearly every day at first base. With Jed Lowrie unlikely to return from the injured list anytime soon, Alonso is primed to bat second in the lineup quite often, giving him ample opportunity to prove he belongs.
“It’s incredible,” Alonso said. “This is something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little kid, and something I’ve been working for my entire life. For all the fruits of my labor to pay dividends, it’s incredible. I can’t explain it in words. If I had the words, I’d say it. But to me right now, I’m just so excited.” (DiComo - mlb.com - 3/28/19)
April 21, 2019: Mets manager Mickey Callaway didn’t even get the chance to fully relax before first baseman Pete was lobbying to be in the next day's lineup. It appears Callaway made the right call. In his first at-bat, Alonso hit a 444-foot homer to straightaway center off Cardinals right-hander Dakota Hudson to give the Mets a one-run lead. The long blast was also Alonso's first homer off a starter this season.
The ball jumped off Alonso's bat at 114.5 mph, according to Statcast, making it the Mets' fifth-highest exit velocity on a homer since Statcast began tracking in 2015. Alonso, who also had New York's hardest-hit homer at 118.2 mph on April 11, is responsible for two of New York's five hardest-hit homers.
“I was on the way to eat [dinner] with my parents and he’s calling and texting me,” Callaway said before the Mets' 6-4 loss to the Cardinals.
Alonso was hit on the right hand by a pitch that was ruled a foul ball in the eighth inning of the 10-2 loss to the Cardinals. He exited the game in a double switch in the bottom of the inning, but X-rays taken of the hand after the game were negative and he was deemed ready to go.
Part of that drive to play was apparently based on Alonso’s familiarity with the opposing starter, Hudson. The two both played college baseball in the Southeastern Conference, with Alonso playing at the University of Florida and Hudson at Mississippi State.
“I guess he faced [Hudson] in college,” Callaway said. “He called me last night like, ‘Hey, you better put me in the lineup against this guy.’”
Callaway laughed about Alonso’s vigor and commitment.
“I don’t know what he was saying," the Mets' skipper said. "He was going nuts. He just said he didn’t like him very much. Something like that.”
For his part, Alonso was cagey.
“I played against him in college," Alonso said. "I know him well, and I want to hit against him. Simple as that." (J Jones - MLB.com - April 21, 2019)
Pete is nicknamed the Polar Bear. Teammate Todd Frazier gave Alonso this nickname in Spring Training because, quite simply, he thought Alonso looked like “a big damn polar bear.” “And then it just kind of stuck,” Alonso said. “Todd Frazier, he’s a loud-mouth from Jersey. He tells it how it is. But I love that guy. He’s a great teammate. He’s quite the character. He’s a clown. I definitely got [the nickname] from him.”
Born in 1994, Alonso remembers falling in love with baseball as a young kid watching mashers like McGwire and Mike Piazza. But as he grew up in Tampa, Fla. and then played at the Univ. of Florida, the player he watched most closely was White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who put up great all-around numbers over an 18-year career.
It speaks to Alonso's maturity that he saw Konerko, who was considered the linchpin of the 2005 championship White Sox, as the type of all-around player he wanted to become.
"He seemed like a really good guy to emulate," Alonso said. "I could just see that he was different. A great hitter who played first base very well, and a champion and a leader."
When Konerko retired after the 2014 season, Alonso said he began watching Paul Goldschmidt for much of the same reason, and indeed the more you talk to the Mets' rookie first baseman, the more obvious it is he's a student of hitting. (John Harper,-SNY.tv- May 4, 2019)
July 3, 2019: Hours before the Mets’ Subway Series games at Citi Field this week, Pete Alonso emerged from the clubhouse ahead of his teammates, bat in hand, and began cranking as many home runs as he could. Several went to the batter’s eye in straightaway center field. Others, as far as the second deck in left.
For Alonso, it was a chance to practice before he competes as the No. 2 seed in the Home Run Derby—his first organized derby of any kind since college. It also offered an opportunity for Derek Morgan, Alonso’s second cousin, to perfect his batting-practice fastballs. Morgan flew to Queens for the practice sessions shortly after Alonso invited him to throw to him at the Derby at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
“I’m just blessed that he asked me,” Morgan said. “Him and I grew up loving the game, and I’m just honored that he asked me. Hopefully, I groove it in there for him and he takes care of business.”
Although Alonso grew up in Florida and Morgan in Ohio, they visited often enough that they became close, “pretty much like brothers,” as Alonso put it. Throughout the 2019 season, as Alonso established himself as one of the game’s top power hitters, he dropped hints that if MLB invited him to participate in the Home Run Derby, he would ask Morgan to throw to him.
The invitation finally came in late June. Alonso quickly paid it forward to Morgan, an operations manager at an express detail car wash in Ohio.
“Both of us grew up around the game of baseball,” Alonso said. “We just love the game so much. We’re family. We grew up together. It’s just a really awesome opportunity because … my mom’s side of the family is all from Ohio. It’s kind of like a homecoming.
“Everything aligned perfectly. It’s in Cleveland this year, and having pretty much a bunch of family from there, I just think it’s a perfect scenario. He’s got that nice, short arm slot. He’s going to be coming in with a nice, big window. He’s going to be laying it in there. It’s going to be fun.”
Although Morgan mainly played middle infield during his high school baseball career, he pitched from time to time. He and Alonso have another connection, as well: both come from families with a military background, a fact that is coloring Alonso’s Derby participation. If he wins, he has pledged to donate 5% of the $1 million grand prize to the Wounded Warrior Project and another 5% to Tunnel to Towers, a Staten Island-based non-profit that aids first responders and their families.
“Both of us, I think we have a really, really important stress on the people who take care of human life, and are selfless in that regard,” Alonso said. “They put themselves in the line of duty, whether that be overseas or here, trying to protect us civilians in New York and around our country. I have the utmost respect for those people who are in the line of duty every day, that risk their lives to protect others.” (A DiComo - MLB.com - July 3, 2019)
July 8, 2019: Alonso won the All-Star Home Run Derby. Alonso was excited just for the opportunity to compete in the All-Star Home Run Derby as the latest accomplishment in his amazing rookie season with the Mets.
Then he went out and made the most of it, beating Toronto’s highly touted Vlad Guerrero Jr. for the title in the all-rookie final round was even more thrilling.
July 9, 2019: Alonso became the first rookie to record multiple RBIs in an All-Star Game.
“I didn’t know that,” Alonso said. “That’s crazy. I’m just really thankful for this opportunity. As every moment comes and arises, I just want to make the most of every situation."
July 26, 2019: Three oversized checks took up most of the stage in the Citi Field press conference room. One was worth $1 million—Pete’s prize for winning the T-Mobile Home Run Derby. The other two did not have to be there. There was no expectation for Alonso, whose regular salary is barely half the $1 million he won in the Derby, to donate any portion of his winnings. But Alonso decided to do so and made good on his promise, giving $50,000 to the Wounded Warrior Foundation and $50,000 to Tunnel to Towers, a Staten Island non-profit that aids first responders and their families.
“I just wanted to show my gratitude and appreciation by donating to these awesome organizations that are going to help a ton of people,” Alonso said. “I’m blessed every single day. I just want to use my platform for good, and bring awareness to these causes, and hopefully other people can be inspired to help out.” "I want to be a good person, too. I don't want to be just a good baseball player."
“What Pete did on the field is pretty amazing,” said Mike Linnington, CEO of the Wounded Warriors Project. “It was an amazing feat. And for Pete to take his notoriety to raise awareness for what our nation’s men and women have done in uniform, and come home to wounds both visible and invisible, recognizing organizations that serve them the way we do, is really pretty special.”
Alonso has long harbored interest in military organizations, given that he has multiple grandparents who are veterans. He also holds significant respect for the types of first responders and their families that Tunnel to Towers aims to help. Several of them were on hand, serving as active reminders of what donations such as Alonso’s can do.
“Why we’re here today is to honor that sacrifice of men and women who are willing to die for me, for you, and for everybody else, so we can be in this country—so Pete can hit these home runs,” said Tunnel to Towers CEO Frank Siller, whose brother was an off-duty firefighter killed responding to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. “And God put him in a position where he can do some good.” (A DiComo - MLB.com - July 26, 2019)
Sure, being on the road for half the year is a bummer for a ballplayer. They have to sleep in a strange bed, away from their family and friends and all their normal routines. There is one upside, though: all the amazing restaurants they get to try out.
With the Mets set to begin a series with the White Sox in Chicago, All-Stars Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil went to one of the world's most inventive, interesting and absolutely nutty restaurants out there: Alinea.The restaurant from Chef Grant Achatz is noted for its upscale American cuisine served in the most creative ways possible. Their website refers to a reservation (somewhere between $260-$395, before drinks) as a "multi-sensory, multi-course" meal. That includes intricate platings, liquid nitrogen drinks and a forever-evolving menu. It's basically edible art.
So, when the guys sat down for their meal, McNeil was already overwhelmed. And that was before they reached the famous dessert, where the artistically decorated plate is brought down from the ceiling, and the food is made on the table in a swirl of smoke. (Michael Clair - MLB.com - July 30, 2019)
Sept 11, 2019: On Pete Alonso’s right cleat was an image of first responders raising an American flag amidst the rubble at Ground Zero. Around it were the red and white stripes of the flag, plus the names of New York City service agencies on site on Sept. 11, 2001 -- the NYPD, the FDNY and so many others. On Alonso’s left cleat was a silhouette of the New York City skyline as it looked on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, with the World Trade Center standing proud. That shoe was blue with white stars, and the inscription read: “September 11, 2001.”
Around the Mets’ clubhouse, Alonso’s teammates arrived to find similar shoes in their lockers. Alonso, a rookie, had spent weeks going around the room, writing down shoe sizes and preferred brands. He spent his own money to purchase a pair of cleats for everyone to honor fallen first responders and their families on the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Lower Manhattan.
“It just came from a place where I wanted to show support not just for the victims, but the families as well,” Alonso said. “No one really knows how deep those emotional scars can be. Living here, just kind of interacting with everybody, I’ve tried to immerse myself in the New York living. I see traces of it every single day, little bits and pieces of it. I just wanted to show recognition to all the people who are heroes, just ordinary people who felt a sense of urgency and an admirable call of duty. This is for all those people that lost their lives, and all those people who did so much to help.”
Originally, Alonso’s hope was that the Mets could wear the hats of service agencies during their Sept. 11 game against the D-backs, as the team did on Sept. 21, 2001, during the first game in New York City following the terrorist attacks. Major League Baseball preferred that the Mets wear those caps during batting practice, so Alonso pivoted to the idea of creating custom cleats for his teammates.
Working with his agency, Alonso approved the design and constructed a list of teammates’ shoe sizes and brands. The final step was to seek the approval of a few veterans in the clubhouse, who OK'd the idea - the custom-made spikes Pete Alonso had made up for his Mets teammates to honor the servicemen and women at Ground Zero.
“He had a quick meeting about it and said, ‘This is from me,’” Todd Frazier said. “He’s a fantastic young man and he comes from a great upbringing.”
Alonso was only 6 years old on Sept. 11, 2001. His clearest memories are of his school letting out early, and his parents -- typically an easygoing couple -- being distraught.
This past year, playing in New York, Alonso has gained a deeper appreciation for those affected by the attacks. When he won the Home Run Derby in July, Alonso gave a portion of his $1 million prize to Tunnel to Towers, a Staten Island-based foundation that aids the family members of fallen first responders. He met several servicemen and women during the Mets’ remembrance ceremonies, which he considered touching.
“It’s not just the victims,” Alonso said. “It’s the scars left behind, like someone missing their mom or missing their dad. I can’t imagine what that’s like. The toll isn’t necessarily all taken on that day. It’s progressively after, because there’s not someone there in their family. It’s different from then on.”
As for the shoes, Alonso considers them gifts to each of his teammates -- the least he can do at the tail end of a season that “has been an absolute fantasy.” The Mets can do what they like with them. Alonso, following a 9-0 win over the D-backs, may look for an opportunity to wear his again.
“I just want to give back,” Alonso said. “I want to help. I don’t just want to be known as a good baseball player. I want to be known as a good person, too. I just want to recognize really what this day is about. I don’t want it to be like a holiday. I want it to be a day of remembrance.” (A DiComo - MLB.com - Sept 12, 2019)
September 17, 2019: The most successful coach in Broncos history was in attendance at Coors Field, saving his heartiest congratulations for a player from New York, not Colorado. After Pete Alonso crushed a 467-foot home run and returned to the dugout in the sixth inning of New York's 6-1 win, Mike Shanahan leaned over from his seat to shake Alonso’s hand and briefly speak with him.
“Hey, I’m Mike Shanahan,” he said, as Alonso recalled the conversation.
“Yeah, I know who you are,” Alonso replied. “My dad raised me right.”
Shanahan then complimented Alonso on his standout rookie season, which he added to in this game with his 48th home run and 110th and 111th RBI.
Although Alonso grew up a Buccaneers fan in the Tampa area, he holds plenty of respect for Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls while coaching the Broncos from 1995-2008. Alonso credits his father, Peter, with both his love for, and knowledge, of football.
“My dad’s a big football guy,” Alonso said. “He grew up playing football. He played college football. When I was playing football, he made sure I knew who certain people were, and [Shanahan] is definitely one of those guys.” (DiComo - mlb.com)
During the 2019 season, Pete and his fiancee shared an Upper East Side one-bedroom apartment.
Alonso's teammates consider him the most optimistic man in baseball.
He has proven himself a more enthusiastic cheerleader than even Mr. Met!
When Dennis Braun, Alonso's coach at Plant High in Tampa, met the kid's parents, he was skeptical. Could these people possibly be that positive?
Pete's father, a staffing consultant who is also named Pete, never complained about his son's playing time. Michelle, who used to work in a crime lab, brought pom-poms to games. Then Braun got to know them well enough that they now travel to Pete's games together. They're for real, he says.
So is Pet. In high school he'd jump to break up fights. In the minors, without saying anything, he once placed a pair of new cleats in the locker of a teammate whose were held together with duct tape. Stephanie Apstein - Sports Illustrated - 9/09/2019)
Alonso has size 13 feet.
Sept 27, 2019: Alonso launched himself into the history books. By cracking his 52nd homer of the year, Alonso tied crosstown slugger Aaron Judge of the Yankees, who'd set the all-time rookie record for home runs in 2017. Alonso's trot around the bases showcased perhaps the happiest man in baseball . . . no, the happiest man in the entire world right now.
This is pure joy! Literally grinning, ear-to-ear, as he rounds the bases. If you're not smiling after seeing that, you must not be capable of feeling emotion. Because this is emotion of the purest type: The exuberance of a man who knows he's living an impossible dream.
Sure, the Mets' midsummer surge didn't lead them back to the postseason. There will be plenty of time for that next season and beyond. But Alonso coming out of nowhere to win the Home Run Derby become the type of superstar who inspires hip-hop legends to wear his jerseys onstage? That's magic. That's what every kid playing in Little League imagines for themselves.
And, as Alonso said after the game, he did feel like a Little Leaguer during that blissful jog around the bases, which explains why he was practically giggling as he rounded the bags:
Here's a guy who's done hundreds of interviews over the past few months, standing here incapable of saying much other than the word "unbelievable" to describe what he's experienced in his first season as a star. He's been rendered speechless ... by himself. He even has a hard time rationalizing his own excellence:
Pete Alonso on contemplating his place in baseball history: "When I think of guys in baseball history, I think of old-timey guys — Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds. Jeez. To think as a rookie I hit more homers than everyone except for one guy, it’s nuts. It’s crazy."
And he's standing there smiling the entire time, in complete awe of himself. I'm honestly not sure if he's ever not smiling, come to think of it. His energy boundless, his homers prodigious, his attitude infectious. He's Pete Alonso, and he's probably smiling somewhere right this very minute. (A Garro - MLB.com - Sept 28, 2019)
Sept. 30, 2019: Alonso has been named the National League Rookie of the Month for September, marking the first time in Mets franchise history a rookie has won three such awards in the same season. Alonso also won the award in April and June this year.
Oct 1, 2019: Like many children of the 1990s, Pete Alonso recalls being pulled out of school on Sept. 11, 2001 before he was old enough to realize, fully, the impact of that day. It was not until Alonso moved to Brooklyn in 2016, playing for the Mets’ Class A affiliate on Coney Island, that he began to understand.
That summer, Alonso visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum for the first time.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Alonso said, “just the vast impact that it had and the absolute massive scar.”
Alonso went back to the museum a second time that summer, then again last year during a trip to New York. Each time, it left an impression. So when Alonso spent his first September as a New York resident this year, he knew he wanted to do something to commemorate all those affected by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Alonso worked with a shoe designer to create custom cleats for himself and all his teammates, then gave them out as gifts.
The Sept. 11 memorial took notice, contacting Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon to ask if Alonso would be interested in donating the shoes. So it came to be that Alonso toured the museum again, before signing over his cleats and a bat to the museum.
“An individual who was 6 when these attacks happened 18 years ago has grown into a man who understands what it means never to forget,” museum president Alice M. Greenwald said.
Alonso, who is coming off an All-Star rookie season that should end with a National League Rookie of the Year Award, has said frequently that he intends to use his growing platform as a celebrity New Yorker for good. When Alonso won the Home Run Derby, he donated $100,000 to charity. That included $50,000 to a Staten Island non-profit, Tunnel to Towers, that aids the families of fallen New York City servicemen and women. When the Sept. 11 memorial asked for his cleats, Alonso was “extremely humbled.”
“There are some absolutely breathtaking artifacts here, and the fact that you guys are willing to have me donate a stinky old pair of cleats, really it’s just so humbling,” Alonso said during the presentation. “It means the world. All I can say is thank you so much. It’s seriously an honor.”
Before the presentation, Alonso took time to tour the museum again, paying particular attention to a winding exhibit that details the timeline of events on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Despite being only 6 years old that day, Alonso has gained perspective on the scope and impact of the attacks -- particularly in the city he now calls home.
“I don’t think for me, I’m ever going to fully understand,” Alonso said. “I just want to understand as much as possible, and give all I can to help.” (A DiComo - MLB.com - Oct 1, 2019)
- Oct 4, 2019: All summer long, Mets rookie slugger Pete Alonso captivated the baseball world with his prodigious home run power. The 24-year-old was a delight on the diamond, clubbing dinger after dinger, smiling and having the time of his life every day. When Alonso set a rookie record with his 53rd home run, surpassing the previous record of 52 set by Yankees masher Aaron Judge, he cried at first base, because Pete Alonso is a little kid having a lifetime of fun.
The fun continued when Alonso popped up on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" with one thing on his mind: Exhibiting just how destructive (and entertaining) it can be smashing random items with a baseball bat. That Lego playhouse doesn’t stand a chance against home run champ @Pete_Alonso20 #LSSC
Isn't that the most satisfying thing you've seen all day? It makes you want to pick up a bat and go crush some junk in the backyard, doesn't it?
Keep smashing stuff, Pete. We'll keep watching intently. (A Garro - MLB.com - Oct 5, 2019)
2019 Season: Why is this polar bear running around a baseball field? Mets first baseman Pete Alonso was dubbed the Polar Bear as he mashed a rookie record 53 home runs this season. His club fell short of the postseason, but a different polar bear was apparently determined to play some October baseball.
A 200-pound polar bear was spotted wandering a baseball field in Manitoba. Officers tranquilized the bear, who will spend 30 days in a holding facility before it's released a safe distance outside of the town.
It must be said that the polar bear does not seem to see anything amiss about the situation. All he sees is an open field to run around in. And run around it did. Unfortunately, the powers that be decided the ballfield was no place for a non-Pete Alonso polar bear and cut the session short. When the bear's released back into the wild, we hope there are plenty of open spaces in which to run free. (CUT4 - MLB.com - Oct 14, 2019)
Oct 25, 2019: As far as feel-good stories go, Pete Alonso paced the 2019 Mets by a rather significant margin. Initially uncertain even to make the Mets’ Opening Day roster, Alonso did that and much, much more, finishing with a Major League rookie-record 53 home runs.
“I think this is the most fun I’ve ever had playing baseball,” Alonso said toward the end of the season. “It’s been extremely special. I will remember this season for the rest of my life. I mean, making the team out of camp and being able to be extremely successful, it’s been miraculous.”
As winter approaches, Alonso is now the most significant offensive building block on which the Mets can build. The team doesn’t necessarily need improvement from Alonso, even if areas still exist that he can polish. They simply need steady contributions from one of baseball’s best power hitters. To that end, Alonso plans to remain the same person, the same player he’s always been -- a year of big league success behind him or not. Only by doing so does he believe he can continue to accomplish historic things for the Mets in 2020 and beyond.
“I wouldn’t change a thing,” Alonso said. “I feel like all the work has proven results, especially coming into this year. And I wouldn’t change a thing.”
What Went Right?
Pretty much everything. Alonso recorded his first hit on Opening Day and his first home run three days later, and he never really slowed his pace. Power was Alonso’s most obvious tool; he led the Majors in homers, ranked third in the National League in isolated power and sixth in slugging. But he also surprised the Mets in two significant ways: providing better-than-expected defense and off-the-charts leadership from a rookie.
Regarding the latter contribution, Alonso said: “I want to do my part and I just want to be accountable for my actions. I just want to help other people, I want to impact other people positively. I didn’t really say, ‘Hey, I want to be a leader.’ I just want to be myself and that’s about it. I just want to be Pete and help my teammates get better, and just try to be the best person and teammate I can every single day.”
What Went Wrong?
Alonso fell short of hitting 60 home runs. In seriousness, Alonso was statistically below-average as both a defender and baserunner, despite his improvements at first base. He would like to continue evolving in both areas. Offensively, Alonso wants to reach base more frequently after ranking 44th in the Majors in that category.
Consider those quibbles for a player who should easily win the National League Rookie of the Year Award and finish in the top 10 in NL MVP voting.
Needing one home run to match Aaron Judge’s rookie record, Alonso crushed it in the third-to-last game of the season. A night later, he blasted his record-breaking 53rd with his parents, fiancée and several friends in attendance at Citi Field. Alonso called it “surreal … almost like an out-of-body experience.”
There’s no reason to think Alonso, who is under team control for five more seasons and will make close to the league minimum for two of them, can’t continue to be one of the brightest young superstars in Major League Baseball. He is likely to hit second or third for the 2020 Mets, assuming an even larger leadership role as a second-year player. While it’s entirely possible Alonso’s numbers could dip in his second season, he’s already taking steps to guard against that. He figures to be one of MLB’s premier power hitters no matter what his home run total might be.
“I wanted to be able to show that Pete can help this team,” Alonso said of his 2019 goals. “So I did that and I just want to continue to do that. I want to continue to be a good ballplayer. The mission stays the same.” (A DiComo - MLB.com - Oct 25, 2019)
In 2019, Alonso won the NL Rookie of the Year Award. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced that Alonso received 29 of a possible 30 first-place votes, with the other going to Soroka. Alonso’s 148 total points easily paced the NL rookie field.
Nov. 10, 2019: Baseball had never before had an official star squad that salutes a full season's worth of work the way other major professional sports do. But the results of the voting for the first All-MLB Team finally arrived at the Winter Meetings. The Mets Alonso was named the first team 1st baseman.
Alonso's one sibling, Alex “Lil Broomstick” plays for Queens University of Charlotte Lacrosse.
Alonso's paternal grandfather, Peter Conrad Alonso, fled his hometown of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and settled in Queens, New York.
In High School Alonso played lacrosse and football as a freshman before deciding to focus solely on baseball.
Dec 30, 2019: The Polar Bear introduced himself to the Majors, and then some. When we learned shortly before the 2019 season that Pete Alonso had made the Mets’ Opening Day roster, it was clear that Major League Baseball was in for a treat. The slugger tore it up in the Minors in 2018, and the hype surrounding him was palpable throughout '19 Spring Training. Hype can be fickle, but Alonso lived up to it, and more.
Alonso hit his first homer on April 1, in his fourth career game, and he never looked back. He totaled 53 home runs on the year, setting a rookie record. He also became the first rookie to lead the Majors outright in homers, and he set a franchise record, too, when he launched his 42nd.
Another place we saw that homer-happy prowess? On the field in Cleveland, where Alonso, who was also an All-Star, won the Home Run Derby. He was the second rookie to win the Derby, along with Aaron Judge in 2017. (S Langs - MLB.com - Dec 30, 2019)
Jan. 26, 2020: Alonso won three BBWAA awards. In addition to receiving the 2019 NL Rookie of the Year Award, Pete also was recognized with the Ben Epstein/Dan Castellano “Good Guy” Award for his accessibility and courtesy to the media, and the Joe DiMaggio “Toast of the Town” Award, which was presented by well-known Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld.
Feb 24, 2020: Pete Alonso was ahead of the team bus in getting to the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. It figured. Alonso started being ahead of schedule last season, his rookie season, when he started hitting home runs and never really stopped, including when he won the Home Run Derby. There was no better individual story in baseball last season, and no player more valuable to his team than the kid they call Polar Bear was with the Mets as he became the home run champ of the game.
"Not gonna lie,” Alonso was saying now outside the visitors’ clubhouse just as the team bus did arrive and his teammates were filing past him and Mets owner Fred Wilpon. “Last year was pretty fun.”
So the guy who hit 53 home runs as a rookie and broke the rookie home run record that Aaron Judge had set on the other side of New York City just two years ago, was asked if he believes he can be an even better hitter this year than he was last year.
“Absolutely,” he said.
Then Alonso was asked if he has set statistical goals for himself. He said he had not. Instead he jerked a thumb over his shoulder at the back field where some of the Washington Nationals were working out, at their end of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, and said, “I want what they have. I want us to win the last game in October. You want to know what my goal really is? That’s my goal. I want to do enough for this team that we get to be them this year.” (M Lupica - MLB.com - Feb 24, 2020)
March 2020: One of the pressing topics Major League Baseball is facing these days is how to grow the game and make younger viewers interested in baseball. New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso has an idea.
Alonso said he told MLB to put a microphone at first base during games to capture conversations between baserunners and fielders in a bid to make people more interested in the sport. (Anthony DiComo)
March 18, 2020: Kathleen Selig had recently been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. She was told she had only weeks to live.
"She turned 82 in September [and] is a diehard Mets fan and has been since the start," her granddaughter, Ally Henglein, wrote in a Twitter post. "Since the mid-1960s, she has lived and breathed everything Mets."
So it was perhaps not as shocking to Henglein as it may have been for others when her grandmother expressed more concern about the Mets' season being postponed by the coronavirus outbreak than her own prognosis.
Henglein went on to detail her grandmother's devotion -- how Selig grew up in Brooklyn and would go to ballgames with her father, how she wore the same Mets necklace every day of the 18 years Henglein has known her, how she paints her fingernails blue and orange every day, and how photos of her with several Mets players having dinner after she had traveled across the country to California to see them play hang on the walls of her apartment.
Henglein's Twitter post ended with a request of the Mets -- a letter, a tweet, a FaceTime call, anything that would show Selig the club's love and appreciation for her during this time. Enter Mets slugger Pete Alonso and manager Luis Rojas. Both called Selig and expressed to her their gratitude and affection on behalf of the club. Selig immediately began to cry, saying, "You have no idea what this is doing for me," and, " ... I love you. You have no idea, I love you."
She thanked them and handed the phone to Henglein as she began sobbing.
Alonso had posted a video for Selig prior to the call, saying how much the Mets appreciate Selig's "lifelong support" and ending with, "Let's go Mets," which Selig repeated as she continued to wipe tears away from her face with a tissue.
"We're touched to be in touch with fans like you," Rojas told her on the call. "Your granddaughter did a great job in a post and it touched all of us."
In her Twitter post, Henglein wrote that "the one thing that would comfort [Selig] in this hard time has been put on hold," referring to the baseball season.
While it's not the same as watching her heroes take the diamond at Citi Field, where she has told her family she would like her ashes to be spread, it was clearly an overwhelming thrill for Selig to hear from the Mets' star first baseman and skipper. But Alonso said the pleasure was all theirs.
"We're thankful for you," he told Selig. " ... We're here. You're in our thoughts and prayers for sure." (M Randhawa - MLB.com - March 18, 2020)
March 25, 2020: During a difficult time around the tri-state area and the country at large, Pete Alonso is doing his part to bring a little cheer into the lives of medical professionals. Alonso released a video on Twitter thanking doctors at four Atlantic Health System hospitals in New Jersey.
“I just want to say thank you so much for all the time and effort that you’re putting into this, and thank you on behalf of everybody, because you’re a part of a bigger picture trying to help prevent this disease,” Alonso said in the video. “Thank you for keeping everybody safe, and providing protection for everybody here on the front lines, working on the prevention of this thing.”
The idea came from Alonso himself, as a way to give back to those on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alonso has been busy spreading cheer since the Mets suspended Spring Training two weeks ago. Last week, he video chatted with an 82-year-old Mets fan who was recently diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. This week, Alonso took his message of inspiration to those in hospitals treating the novel coronavirus.
Although he has played just one season in the big leagues, Alonso has made a mission of impacting the community around him. Last July, he donated 10 percent of his Home Run Derby winnings to the Wounded Warrior Project and Tunnel to Towers, a Staten Island nonprofit that aids first responders and their families. Then in September, he bought commemorative Sept. 11 cleats for each of his teammates. Alonso later donated those to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in Lower Manhattan.
“I don’t want to be just a good baseball player,” Alonso said last summer. “I want to be a good person, too.” (A DiComo - MLB.com - March 25, 2020)
April 22, 2020: Shortly after Pete Alonso won the 2019 Home Run Derby, making good on his promise to donate 10 percent of his winnings to the nonprofit organizations Tunnel to Towers and the Wounded Warrior Project, he had a chance to see the effect of his work.
Representatives from both organizations came to Citi Field, as well as the recipients of Alonso’s generosity -- right there in the flesh, in front of his eyes. The scene, for both Alonso and those he helped, was emotional. From that point forward, Alonso craved the idea of doing more, but he wasn’t sure how best to focus his philanthropy. Months later, he and his fiancée, Haley Walsh, were still mulling that problem when the solution struck them.
“Basically, it was like, ‘Well, why do we need to focus on one specific thing?’” Alonso recalled in a phone interview. “And the answer to that was, ‘We don’t.’ We just want to help as many people as possible. … We want to be fluid with the world around us.”
By January, Alonso had begun drawing up the papers for his own foundation, which launched at www.homers4heroes.org. Working with Regina Miller, one of the executives behind Clayton Kershaw’s foundation, Alonso created an organization with no distinct focus outside of its mission “to recognize the outstanding work of our heroes and inspire others to be a hero in others’ lives.” Each month, Alonso and Walsh plan to sift through nominations to decide where to direct their resources.
“I want to give people that opportunity not just to show appreciation, but also [to] help those people that have had impacts and that are doing good and that are on a mission trying to help others,” Alonso said. “For us, we’re not just trying to help other people, but we’re trying to inspire and light a spark in other people as well.”
Throughout his record-setting rookie season, in which he hit 53 home runs and established himself as one of baseball’s most vibrant young superstars, Alonso spoke of his desire to be remembered as “not just a good baseball player … but a good human being.” He has become such an outspoken leader that, despite being 25 years old and a veteran of only one big league season, Alonso is frequently referenced as a potential future captain. Projects like his Homers for Heroes foundation reveal why.
Of course, Alonso wants to be known as a good baseball player, too, which is why he continues to work out rigorously near his Tampa-area home. Training in a barn with Ryan Rigau of Athlete Retreat, Alonso has been running through his typical offseason workouts -- walking on a mat covered with rocks, flipping oversized tires and, of course, more traditional weightlifting. To keep his hitting eye sharp, Alonso takes swings using a virtual-reality machine that allows him to simulate any pitcher in baseball.
“It’s been a very tiny and small workout group, but we’re making the best of it by using private facilities and being as careful as possible,” Alonso said.
Much of his free time has gone toward the greater good. Last month, Alonso spent time video chatting with a terminal cancer patient who is a diehard Mets fan. He has participated in public service announcements regarding the coronavirus pandemic, and he has personally thanked doctors at four Atlantic Health System hospitals in New Jersey. Now, he has a foundation with the scope to help people on a larger scale.
“I’m blessed with what I have,” Alonso said. “I’m blessed to be a New York Met. I’m blessed to be a professional baseball player, and I want to make the most of my opportunity and use my platform and my likeness for good.” (A DiComo - MLB.com - April 22, 2020)
May 9, 2020: Pete Alonso on his mom, Michelle on Mothers Day:
A significant number of Pete Alonso’s baseball genes can be traced to his mother, Michelle, a former Ohio Wesleyan University softball player who often ferried her son to games with a bag of balls in the car. The younger Alonso distinctly recalls one such day when he was around nine years old. His father was out of town on business, and Pete and Michelle arrived at the field about an hour before first pitch.
"None of the coaches or kids on my team were there,” Alonso said. Rather than wait around idly for others to show up, Michelle took it upon herself to step in and personally throw Pete batting practice.
“I raked that game, too,” Alonso said. -- Anthony DiComo
May 10, 2020: ESPN producer Patrick Truby asked on Twitter: Who is the “coolest” person in baseball? That’s the sort of question during these sad days without live Major League Baseball that gets our engines motoring over here. That’ll continue to fill the days.
So, today, we take a look at the Mets' “coolest” player. That is, of course, a vague concept, “cooler,” so we’ll just give you our definition of it: When an 8-year-old is pretending to be his favorite player on his favorite team out on the diamond, which player is he pretending to be? That’s how we’ll define it. And here are our picks.
Mets: Pete Alonso, It hasn’t been a long time since there has been a cool Met, but it has been a long time since someone thought it was cool because he’s a Met. (Will Leitch)
Like many others, Pete shared a #blackouttuesday post on Instagram to support the national protests against police brutality. Not surprisingly, not everyone got behind his show of support. One fan responded to his Instagram post with “All Lives Matter.”
After seeing the “All Lives Matter” comment, Alonso did not hold back. He blasted the comment with a salient remark. “Get out of here with that ignorance,” Alonso wrote. Of course everybody’s life matters but we’re focusing on the wide spread racism on our country right now. The question is, why does the black lives matter movement bothers you enough to have to say all lives matter?"
It’s worth noting that many who did comment on Alonso’s Instagram post were extremely supportive. He’s been a rock in the New York community this year and has done plenty to show support for those who need it. Even though he’s still just 25 years old, Alonso is showing awesome leadership. The Mets have to be happy with this slugger. (Reed - Sportsnaut - 6/2/2020)
Pete has rapidly become the focal point of the Mets, not just of a vastly improved offense, but also a youthful clubhouse. Frequently, those in and around the clubhouse mention him as a potential future captain. He is an All-Star and a philanthropist. He has become the team’s de facto spokesman, creating the rallying cry “LFGM” and speaking eloquently on topics ranging from the Mets’ playoff chances to racial inequality in America. Earlier in 2020, Alonso used a spring press conference as a forum to discuss his favorite types of wine.
“I’m very proud in how he carries himself,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said, “very proud in how he represents the team everywhere, on and off the field.” Spending his time off in the Tampa, Fla., area during the coronavirus, Alonso worked out regularly in a specialized barn where his training regimen included walking on a mat covered with rocks, flipping oversized tires and using a virtual reality machine to simulate live pitching. He continues to work on his defense almost daily, using a miniature glove to snap up ground ball after ground ball on the infield grass. (DiComo - mlb.com - 7/7/2020)
Sept 4, 2020: As I write, our team is headed back to the city from a quick little trip to Baltimore. It’s a happy flight and the boys are in a great mood, because we just snapped a losing streak.
Experiencing this 2020 year and season has been tumultuous to say the least. There have been peaks and valleys scattered throughout the days and weeks of this year. Personally, the season has seen more lows than highs. Ultimately, every season for every baseball player does. It’s a game of failure. That’s why it’s the most difficult game in the world.
Baseball is my profession and I take ultimate pride in what I do. I love my job with every ounce of me. I’m blessed to be playing this game, especially during a year like this one. I give it my all every day between those lines and no one can say otherwise. With the failures and successes that I’ve experienced, I’m proud. I earn my successes and I wear my failures. Failure is something that is necessary to grow professionally and personally. I acknowledge it, but I never want to accept failure as a friend. It’s not in my nature. When I compete, I’m in it to win. Always.
One of the biggest things that 2020 has reinforced is that I can’t resist what I cannot change. I can’t change what’s going on around the country or around the world. The only thing I can control is how I act and how I go about my business day in and day out. I’m thankful for the many blessings in my life. Every day is a new opportunity to be great and impact someone else in a positive way.
2020 gives me hope. Even in the fire, I feel that collectively we are walking through this together. United. Everyone around the world has been affected by what’s going on. Navigating this year has made me thankful and gracious so much more for things in my life. I’m thankful for so many loved ones, being able to play ball this year, my teammates and my health.
I am also thankful for the opportunity to help children living in hunger. We are getting close to hitting the $1,000,000 mark in all-time donations to No Kid Hungry through the Citi Community Home Runs program. It would be an incredible milestone to hit this season.
Lastly, to everyone reading this: I have a challenge for you. Spread positivity to at least one person each day. In times like these, we never know what challenges an individual can be experiencing. There is so much negative energy being spewed out into the world. By putting out positivity from an individual level daily, we will all rise together. Thank you guys for your constant support!
LFGM ( P Alonso - This sponsored column was written as part of a paid partnership with Citi. - Sept 4, 2020)
- March 11, 2020: The Mets agreed to terms with Alonso on a $652,521 salary, the largest in Major League history for a player coming off his first season.