WASHINGTON — For Pete Alonso, making it to the majors means a return to an ancestral homeland of sorts: Queens.
His late grandfather, Peter Conrad Alonso, lived in Queens after emigrating from Spain in the 1930s, graduating from the now-closed Jamaica High School. His father, Peter Matthew Alonso, was born in Queens and lived in the area for the first year of his life before the family moved to Ohio.
Now the Mets’ first-year first baseman is bringing the Alonsos back to the borough.
“Life is kind of funny,” the youngest Alonso said. “It all comes around full circle.”
A quick aside on their names: There are five Peter Alonsos in all, each with a different middle name, so there aren’t any juniors or seniors or Roman numerals involved. Pete Alonso, as Mets fans know him, is legally Peter Morgan Alonso.
The patriarch — Grandpa, as Pete calls him — had a classic immigrant success story. He fled his native Barcelona as a teenager during the Spanish Civil War, came to New York through Ellis Island, settled in Queens with family, fought for the United States in the Military Intelligence Division during World War II and received multiple degrees from New York University.
Along the way, he became an ardent Brooklyn Dodgers fan and was bitterly disappointed when Walter O’Malley moved the team to Los Angeles.
“He always said he loved, loved, loved the Dodgers. He was an old-school baseball fan, old-school New Yorker, just loves it,” Alonso said. “He said he used to go to this little diner and they’d have the radio blasting all throughout the restaurant. And he said Ebbets Field was incredible.”
Baseball has been a theme through the generations for the family. Pete has lots of extended family still in the area, including Long Island, but they haven’t historically rooted for the orange and blue. Exhibit A: Pete’s great-uncle Tony had navy and white roses at his funeral, paying homage to his strict Yankees fandom.
It was more of the same for a lot of cousins, too.
“They were Yankees fans,” Alonso said, smiling. “That was ‘were.’ Past tense. Now they have a bloodline in Queens, so they can’t.”
When Peter Conrad Alonso’s grandson, a Tampa native and University of Florida standout, became a second-round Mets draft pick in 2016, the grandfather journeyed back to Brooklyn to watch baseball. Pete was playing first base and batting cleanup for the Cyclones, the organization’s short-season Class A affiliate. “He loved every second of it,” Pete said.
Loving every second of it seems to run in the family. With just two major-league games on his record, including a 3-for-4, two-double effort in the Mets’ 11-8 win over the Nationals on Saturday, Alonso already has ingratiated himself to the fans with a constant, genuine enthusiasm and a fearlessness about saying what he believes and is thinking.
As his mother, Michelle, describes it, that comes from a family philosophy that runs contrary to what you often hear from major-leaguers: Don’t act like you’ve been there before.
“This is a gift. Enjoy every moment of it, embrace it, have fun with it. It’s a blessing,” Michelle Alonso said. “Just enjoy and take it all in — each moment, each day. It’s exciting. When you dull yourself to all the great parts, the fun parts of playing this game, you’re just going through the motions and you’re a robot. It’s just no fun. It’s no fun for the players, for the fans, for anyone.”
And so Mets games might turn into miniature family reunions for Pete Alonso and his newly minted Mets-fan family members.
“They’re really stoked,” said Pete’s father. “It’ll be a great excuse to be with family, to be honest with you.”
Pete’s grandfather, though, won’t be there. He died in December at age 95. “He lived a hell of a life,” Pete said. “If I live to 95, I’d be stoked.”
Among Pete’s goals early in his professional career: Make it to the majors fast enough for his grandfather to return to Queens to see it. He fell just short of that, as the Mets opted not to call him up late last season after his huge year in the minors.
“I was hoping I could make it before so he could go back,” the rookie said. “But he’ll be there in spirit.”