Mets' Pete Alonso, Cardinals' Paul Goldschmidt have mutual respect
JUPITER, Fla. — On the way to establishing himself as a premier amateur hitter and eventual Mets draft pick, Pete Alonso viewed Paul Goldschmidt as a role model, an exemplar of success for a player with their similar skill sets. Then he exploded onto the major-league scene and they became peers, occasional texters and — one day last year — fishing buddies. And now they are about to be teammates.
As they prepare to play for the United States in the World Baseball Classic, Alonso and Cardinals first baseman Goldschmidt, the reigning NL MVP, have developed a dynamic that began as distant one-way admiration and has grown into mutual respect and even friendship.
They don’t know how playing time at their shared position will sort out in the two-week tournament, but they’re pumped to team up.
“There’s not many scenarios where we can be on the same team,” Alonso said before the Mets played the Cardinals on Monday. “This is really cool for the college Pete Alonso.”
Goldschmidt said afterward: “I’m looking forward to getting to play with him at the WBC, learn from him and play with him. That’ll be a great opportunity. I love watching him play.”
Goldschmidt saying he’ll learn from Alonso isn’t mere puffery, either. He credited his All-Star Game home run last year in part to his Mets counterpart, who offered a tip on facing the pitcher, Rays lefthander Shane McClanahan. Alonso had gone deep in his only game against McClanahan in May 2021. Goldschmidt didn’t want to say what the advice was — trade secrets and all — but did say it worked.
“He said something like, hey, do you ever think about this?” Goldschmidt said. “I was like, no, I haven’t. Then I hit the homer and came in the dugout and I was like, yeah, it worked. I gave him a high-five and said, ‘Thanks for the help.’
“I’ll learn from anyone. It doesn’t matter. Pete is obviously a very accomplished hitter and great player. I try to learn from anyone I can.”
For Alonso, sharing a clubhouse with Goldschmidt is just one of the fun parts of the Classic. He’ll be there alongside Mets teammates Jeff McNeil, Adam Ottavino and Brooks Raley. He also will reunite with a high school teammate, Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker (Plant High in Tampa), and a college teammate, Royals righthander Brady Singer (University of Florida). That is a cool collection of connections for a guy who tried out for but did not make various Team USA squads before going pro.
Only one of the above, though, served as inspiration for the kind of player Alonso wanted to be. He was a 10th- grader when Goldschmidt broke into the majors in 2011 and a high school senior when Goldschmidt broke out with an All-Star/Silver Slugger/Gold Glove season in ’13.
Goldschmidt became the latest righthanded power-hitting first baseman, following Mark McGwire and Paul Konerko, that Alonso appreciated as a fan. When Alonso made the majors in 2019, he cited Goldschmidt, who reputedly was defensively iffy as a prospect, as proof he could improve in that way, too. Goldschmidt now is a four-time Gold Glover.
“I remember his rookie year and knew guys with the Mets who were saying, ‘Watch this guy,’ ” Goldschmidt recalled. “And he had a great year and he’s a great hitter.”
As Goldschmidt has compiled as strong a resume as any first baseman of his generation — seven All-Star nods, six top-10 MVP finishes, five Silver Sluggers — Alonso watched and learned about what he called “the value of substance and consistency.”
Along the way, they got acquainted during All-Star occasions and first-base chitchats. Once, during the 2021-22 lockout, Alonso had Goldschmidt out on his fishing boat in Tampa, an environment in which Alonso is “an expert” and “a stud,” Goldschmidt said.
“He’s not about the flash, not about the flair,” Alonso said. “But when he’s between the lines, he’s going to do whatever he can to beat you. He’s always been a player of substance and consistency. For me, that’s what I want to try to be and continue to be.”
At 35, Goldschmidt is as good as he has ever been — and in that sense still is serving as a role model for Alonso.
“That’s why he’s considered one of the best,” Alonso said. “Because he’s been doing it at such an elite level for a long time.”
If only they could figure out who will play when in the WBC. In describing his philosophy on the matter, Goldschmidt’s explanation sounded a lot like something Alonso would say.
“Hopefully we can’t go wrong,” Goldschmidt said. “Whatever [Team USA manager Mark DeRosa] decides. I’ll just do whatever I can to help us win.
“If that’s playing first base, if that’s doing something else, I’ll do that. It’s all about the team. I’m not just saying that. Especially when you’re getting together for your country. Even if not, I think that’s always been my attitude.”