The number 41 is one of the most significant in the 58-season history of the Mets.
It is retired for Tom Seaver, the greatest player the franchise ever has called its own. It also represents the most home runs any Met ever has managed in one season, with Pete Alonso only adding to his storybook rookie campaign by tying the team record with his 41st homer of the season in the Mets’ 9-5 loss Saturday night to Atlanta.
The Mets ultimately wasted the feat with sloppy play in the field and on the bases in the latter innings, but Citi Field was positively rocking when Alonso clubbed a three-run shot to center in the fifth against Braves lefty Max Fried to put the Mets ahead 5-4, pulling him even with Todd Hundley (1996) and Carlos Beltran (2006).
“It’s really hard to explain. It’s nuts,” Alonso said after the game. “As soon as the ball left the bat, I knew it. The fans just went absolutely nuts. It’s something you dream about as a kid. It’s surreal. It was a hell of an environment tonight. And that moment was really special. I couldn’t have dreamt it up any better.”
Alonso’s 40th homer of the year last Sunday in Kansas City eclipsed Cody Bellinger’s rookie mark for the National League. With five full weeks and 33 games remaining in the regular season, Alonso has a chance to shatter the team mark and possibly make a run at Yankees slugger Aaron Judge’s major-league rookie record of 52 home runs in 2017.
“I hope he breaks the (Mets) record. I hope he continues to do well,” Beltran, currently a special assistant to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, told Newsday’s Mets beat writer, Tim Healey. “I hope he stays healthy and I hope he continues to bring joy to the Mets’ fans.”
Alonso said the model bat he used Saturday night was the same as the one he swung in winning the Home Run Derby in July, a design with letters spelling “Haley’s Comet,” after his fiancee.
His fifth-inning shot traveled an estimated 451 feet, landing in the blacked-out batter’s eye section to the right of the Home Run Apple. A fan jumped out of the outfield seats to retrieve the ball, which was back in Alonso’s locker stall after the game.
The Mets couldn’t hold the lead, however, as the Braves scored an unearned run against Zack Wheeler in the sixth before going ahead on a two-run single by Ronald Acuna Jr. against Brad Brach in the eighth.
“I was frustrated that I didn’t get that shutdown inning after Pete got that home run,” Wheeler said. “I really don’t get chills much, but that definitely gave me chills a little bit with the atmosphere and the timing of the home run and how big it was. The guy’s special.”
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Alonso became the first rookie to set or tie his team’s single-season home run record since longtime Mets broadcaster and Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner hit 23 homers for Pittsburgh in 1946.
Alonso’s homer also gave him 100 RBIs for the year, making only the third NL rookie since 2000 to record at least 100 in a season, joining Albert Pujols (130) and Ryan Zimmerman (110).
“It’s really cool,” Alonso said. “I just want to keep continuing to be the best person I can and the best baseball player I can and help this team win. That’s all I really want to do.”