After Pete Alonso hit his 52nd home run of the season to tie with Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge’s major league record for most homers by a rookie on Friday, Alonso stood at his locker and considered his place in baseball history.
“I think of old-timey guys like Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds,” he said. “To think as a rookie I hit more homers than everyone except for one guy, it’s nuts. It’s crazy.”
Alonso, 24, is alone atop the annals now. On Saturday night, Alonso stroked a home run off Braves pitcher Mike Foltynewicz into the center-field bleachers at Citi Field in the third inning for his 53rd home run of the season. It was one more accolade for Alonso to claim en route to an off-season that is expected to include his being voted the National League’s rookie of the year in November.
Alonso admired his historic homer as he made his way to first, and celebrated with teammates after crossing home plate. He remained emotional in the field afterward, and wiped tears from his eyes while playing first base.
With one day left in the regular season, Alonso leads the majors in homers. Entering Saturday night’s game, Eugenio Suarez of the Cincinnati Reds was in second place with 49 homers. If Alonso maintains his lead, he would become the first rookie in the modern era (since 1900) to be the outright home run leader.
When Alonso was a student at the University of Florida, he was a history major. He has regularly expressed appreciation for the predecessors he surpassed this season. After Alonso tied with Judge, who established the record in 2017, the Yankees slugger returned the praise and noted that he expected Alonso to beat his mark by the end of the weekend.
“There’s no better individual to represent not only the Mets but the city of New York,” Judge said. “He’s going to do a lot of special things over his long career, so I’m excited for him. It’s just the beginning for him and it’s the first of many records he’s going to break.”
With the Mets eliminated from the playoffs as of Wednesday night, Mets Manager Mickey Callaway took note of the fans continuing to come out to Queens to support Alonso.
“There is something about Pete that draws everybody in,” Callaway said.
James Wagner contributed reporting from Arlington, Tex.