Pete Alonso reminds iconic 1969 Met Ron Swoboda of ... nothing like himself.
In 1965, Ron Swoboda hit 15 home runs before the All-Star break.
Say goodbye to that Mets rookie record. Alonso has 17 after homering Friday night against the Tigers at Citi Field -- and the All-Star break is six weeks away.
Swoboda’s red-hot start to his career quickly cooled as he finished with 19 homers, his single-season high. He hit 73 in a nine-year career.
“This is one of those records until somebody broke it nobody knew existed,’’ Swoboda said Wednesday from his home in New Orleans. “Good for him. I'm tickled pink for Pete Alonso, he's a pretty terrific young guy. I got a chance to meet him in the spring. I admired his approach. He kind of levels through the ball, left-center, right-center, with a lot of pop and seemed like a well-grounded guy. He had a great spring and he's really gone out and done it for them this season. He doesn't let a couple of bad at-bats send him spiraling into darkness.’’
Swoboda, who will turn 75 next month, said he had no idea why he hit so many homers early or why his power left. Four of his first-year homers came against future Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax, Gaylord Perry and Phil Niekro.
“I didn't know where any of that came from,’’ he said. “I didn't know anything about my swing and I really didn't know much about hitting. I just looked for the ball and took a hack at it. Out of ignorance, I got 15 home runs for [manager] Casey Stengel. I never hit 15 home runs for anybody in any full season again, so obviously I didn't know what I was doing.
“I started losing a feel for my swing. It got long and I didn't even know what long was. And I wasn't catching up with fastballs like I used to and they threw me a lot of sliders and I wasn't handling that very well, either. I was never that same kind of fastball hitter. I didn't know what I was doing to get to those fastballs and I couldn't get back to that.’’
FIrst baseman Alonso also had the reputation of being a subpar fielder, a label Swoboda had to contend with as an outfielder. “Now they don't have room for Dominic Smith,’’ Swoboda said of the Mets' other first baseman.
Swoboda is staying away from predictions and comparisons for Alonso. Regarding his own experience, Swoboda said, “They [media] started projecting, saying 'how many home runs did Mickey Mantle hit as a rookie , how many did Joe DiMaggio hit ?' I’m going, 'I'm not sure I like these comparisons to Hall of Fame careers. I'm just starting.' ’’
Swoboda did have one piece of advice for Alonso, who has said he would like to represent the Mets in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in July. Mindful that it has thrown off the swings of other players in the past, Swoboda said, “That would probably be an event he should avoid.’’
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