By Matt Ehalt
A polar bear has found his home in New York City.
It’s hard to find a better match among player and city than the one between Mets first baseman Pete Alonso – affectionately known as the Polar Bear – and the Big Apple. Alonso’s charismatic, outgoing and team-first approach to the game, in addition to his potent bat, has made him a huge hit in Gotham.
It all started in 2019 when Alonso, a second-round draft pick from the University of Florida, produced a rookie season that most could only dream of.
The Tampa native worked his way onto the Opening Day roster and never looked back while setting team and MLB records. He hit his first career homer April 1 in spacious Marlins Park, and they then started coming in bunches. One his most jaw-dropping early home runs landed in the water fountain in deep center field at Atlanta’s Truist Park (then known as SunTrust Park).
Alonso’s prolific power made him a natural fit for the Home Run Derby, and he also earned his first All-Star berth. Alonso put on a show at Progressive Field, defeating some of the game’s top young stars en route to capturing the title with a 23-22 walk-off win against Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the final.
As Alonso kept smashing homers in the second half, it put him on pace to break Aaron Judge’s rookie record of 52 set in 2017. Alonso gave the Citi Field faithful something to remember during the final series of the year, tying the rookie record in the third-to-last game with a solo shot off Atlanta’s Dallas Keuchel before breaking the record Sept. 28 with a homer off Mike Foltynewicz.
He finished his rookie year hitting .260 with a .941 OPS while hitting 53 homers and tallying 120 RBI. His 53 dingers also led the majors with no other player reaching 50.
Alonso also created that year a popular new hashtag for all Mets fans: #LFGM. While the #LGM (Let’s go Mets) hashtag certainly has been a hit, Alonso added his own (explicit) touch to it and fans loved it. It became a rallying cry for the team and its fan base during their late-season push.
The 2020 season did not go as well for Alonso, but he still hit 16 homers and posted an .817 OPS in the shortened 60-game campaign.
In addition to his on-filed success, the first baseman has also been quite active in using his platform to help better the world, including the launch of his Homers for Heroes (Link: https://homersforheroes.org/) foundation last season. Alonso is quite gracious with his time and energy to try to help those in need.
That rare ability to connect with fans both on and off the field makes Alonso one of baseball’s brightest young stars, and one whom Mets fans enjoy calling their own.