Pete Alonso of the New York Mets poses with bench...

Pete Alonso of the New York Mets poses with bench coach Dave Jauss after winning the Home Run Derby at Coors Field on July 12, 2021 in Denver. Credit: Getty Images

PITTSBURGH — For his fifth consecutive Home Run Derby, Pete Alonso is bringing back a familiar face: former Mets bench coach Dave Jauss.

Jauss became something of a fan favorite when he pitched to Alonso in the Derby in 2021, when he won, and in 2022, when he lost to Julio Rodriguez in the semifinals. These days, Jauss, 67, works for the Nationals as a senior adviser for player development, but he was ready and willing to return for this cameo when Alonso reached out about the possibility a week ago.

Alonso and Jauss “very much so” are still in touch, the first baseman said. They and their wives have formed a strong connection through the years.

“He’s one of those people that are just truly special in this game of baseball,” Alonso said. “He’s been around a long time and I really enjoyed having him here when he was here. In this game, there are certain people who become a part of your baseball family. And him and Billie, they mean a lot to Haley and I.”

Jauss said: “I am truly excited to be a small part of what Pete is doing as a man and player. Blessed for my family to be with his family again at this awesome event and honoring of the best players in our great game.”

The Derby will be held Monday night in Arlington, Texas.

The homer-hitting contest has become a staple of Alonso’s summers. As a rookie in 2019, he won with his cousin, Derek Morgan, pitching to him. Then came the two Jauss years. Last season, when Alonso lost in the first round, Mets batting-practice thrower Aaron Myers served as a late fill-in.

 

Alonso could tie Ken Griffey Jr. for the top spot all-time with a third championship.

“Full stadium, sold-out stadium, for people all there to see the same thing, which is the coolest part about our game: seeing balls hit hard and far,” Alonso said.

His love of dingers stems in part from watching the epic 2008 edition at Yankee Stadium, particularly Josh Hamilton’s iconic first round (28 home runs), as a 13-year-old kid.

On that theme, Alonso, 29, is adopting a youth-centric cause this time around. Any money he wins from the event will go toward refurbishing fields around the country through his charity, The Alonso Foundation, he said.

In 2023, the Derby prize pool totaled $2.5 million, with the winner getting $1 million.

“I want to be able to take care of and redo some fields, to rejuvenate the love for baseball and get kids out there,” Alonso said. “It’s really exciting, because taking myself back to 7-, 8-year-old me, it’s a dream come true for sure. Just want to inspire the youth. This game is not just about the present. It’s about the future and inspiring kids and hopefully helping some kids out to where they could eventually do it.

"For me, it was a dream and now it’s reality. So hopefully this can inspire some kids and they can be doing the same thing and continuing to give back.”

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