Growing up in Tampa Bay, Pete Alonso’s love for baseball was visible all around. From all of the posters, balls, pictures in Mike Piazza jerseys, playing with his parents, Pete undeniably loved the game.
He famously wrote a paper about his career goals, which stated that he was going to play baseball for a living. The course instructor gave him a “C,” as he believed that Pete was being unrealistic.
Boy was he wrong.
He played as much baseball as he could as a child and, once he hit high school, Pete simply took off. He started off his first two years at Jesuit High School and played lacrosse and football as a freshman before focusing solely on baseball.
Then he transferred to Henry B. Plant High School for his junior and senior years.
After graduating high school, Pete enrolled at the University of Florida and played for the prestigious Florida Gators. He was an All-Southeastern Conference as a freshman in 2016, where Alonso hit .374/.469/.659 with 14 home runs with 60 runs batted in through 58 games. He led the Gators to back to back College World Series in 2015 and 2016.
Unfortunately, Alonso suffered a broken hand right before the 2016 MLB Draft.
Alonso’s broken hand caused him to fall into the second round (64th overall) of the 2016 MLB Draft, where he was taken by the New York Mets.
He spent his first season in Short-Season ball playing for the Brooklyn Cyclones, playing himself into that leagues All-star game. In 30 games, the young Alonso posted a .322 average with five home runs and 21 RBI.
He was limited to just 93 games in 2017, 82 with High-A St. Lucie and 11 with Double-A Binghamton. However, in St. Lucie, he hit .286 with 16 homers and 58 RBI and, through the remaining 11 games, he hit .311 with two home runs and five RBI in Binghamton.
Alonso broke out in 2018, making the jump from Double-A to Triple-A and banging very hard on the doors to the major leagues. He went from a decent hitter with tons of power to a complete hitter who possessed great plate discipline and even more impressive power.
Alonso slashed .285/.395/.579 with 36 homers and 119 RBI through his 132 games between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas. He was selected to the 2018 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, where he hit a mammoth 417-foot home run. Alonso also won the Joe Bauman Home Run Award for his extremely impressive season.
Following the conclusion of the regular season, Pete went to the Arizona Fall League to work on his game. This is where worked his tail-end off to improve his defense. In that time, General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen flew out to talk Pete through a plan for the 2019 season.
From the start, both Alonso and the Mets wanted to make the 2019 season special… but it’s hard to see them envisioning the season that would be put together. From the second Alonso pulled up to the spring training facility, he was locked in on a mission.
In his first at-bat of spring, Pete hit a home run against Braves Touki Toussaint that traveled north of 400 feet. Throughout the remainder of Spring Training, Alonso showed the world why he was deserving of a roster spot, which included his much-improved defense.
Fast forward to March 28, 2019.
Alonso got the news from manager Mickey Callaway that he had made the team. He got the start at first base and batted second against Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. He went 1-4 on the day, with his first hit coming against Nationals reliever Justin Miller.
He then hit his first home run in Miami on April 1 against Drew Steckenrider. Then, on April 9, he had his first multi-homer game against the Twins.
That was the start of a historic season which included the following (buckle up): Rookie of the Month awards in April, June, and September, NL Player of the Week in June, an All-Star selection in which he got a hit, a Home Run Derby crown which only Aaron Judge did outright as a rookie, NL Rookie home run crown, Mets franchise home run crown, MLB rookie home run crown, 2019 MLB Homerun title, and well who would’ve guessed, NL Rookie of The Year.
Well, Alonso did this all as a 24-year-old rookie in the city of New York. He slashed .260/.358/.583 with a .941 OPS, exactly 5.0 WAR, 53 homers, 120 RBI, 30 doubles, and played all but one game. He also adopted the nickname Polar Bear from third baseman Todd Frazier and coach Gary DiCarcina.
Playing in New York means lots of media, a big stage, lots of pressure, harsh fans, which can be very hard on young athletes.
The fact that the 24-year-old Alonso was able to handle everything so well and stay within himself is a testament to the way his parents, Peter and Michelle, raised him. After every game, Alonso sat down at his locker and allowed the media to speak with him no matter how the game went.
Never once did he have an issue with a reporter, nor did he avoid any question. Pete was almost like the team’s spokesperson, which can be crucial when other players are not in a good place after the game.
Alonso would take notes about his at-bats after every game and let the media know about that. When the team needed some re-energizing, Alonso was there and was always optimistic.
He came up with the rally-cry “LFGM,” which certainly kept the fans’ spirits alive all season. Pete constantly shouted out the fans after the game and on social media, which no other athlete ever does.
As a rookie, Pete became the virtual leader of a team in the city of New York, which is unprecedented. After winning the Home Run Derby, Alonso donated half his earnings to Tunnel to Towers and Wounded Warriors, as a recognition to the men and women that serve our country and he was only earning $555 thousand for his first season.
When Sept. 11 rolled around, Alonso got special hats and cleats to honor the men and women that serve our country and those who perished in the line of duty on that fateful day in 2001.
His 9/11 recognition didn’t end there. Later that month, Alonso visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum in the Freedom Tower and donated his custom bat and cleats to the museum and met with the victims’ families. So kind-hearted and down to earth.
No other athlete or celebrity can handle a stage in New York better than Pete Alonso can.
What can be made of all this is that Pete Alonso is the perfect package. From his performance on the field to his importance the clubhouse, on social media, in the community, leadership, and just him as a person –– Alonso is one of a kind.
However, what can be expected in 2020?
In terms of Alonso as a person, he will continue to use his platform like a real professional. On the field? Can you get any better than what he did last season? If this were any other player, it wouldn’t be wise to expect the same. But with Pete, he probably can replicate his success and potentially get better in different ways.
All that’s left to be said is this: Wow. Pete Alonso is one of a kind.