Mets make big addition: The HR Horse

July 24th, 2021

NEW YORK -- As Pete Alonso returned to the dugout following his 450-foot, second-deck homer in the eighth inning of the Mets’ 3-0 win over the Blue Jays on Friday, teammate James McCann grabbed a plush horse, raised it high, and placed it on Alonso’s shoulders. The first baseman needed no additional prompting, propping the horse on his shoulders as he jump-skipped his way to the other end of the dugout.

“The Home Run Horse is finally here in the second half,” Alonso said afterward.

The horse, Alonso explained, was the idea of hitting coach Hugh Quattlebaum, who was as aware as anyone of the Mets’ first-half power outage. In large part because of injuries to nearly every regular position player, the Mets hit just 88 home runs before the All-Star break -- tied with the Marlins for 26th in the Majors. But they’ve changed that narrative in the second half, bashing 18 home runs in seven games to pace the Major Leagues.

The horse represents that line of demarcation -- absent early, present now.

“It’s the Home Run Horse, and yeah, I don’t know if we have a name for it yet,” Alonso said. “I’m just going to call it the Home Run Horse. Honestly, I have no idea what we’re going to name it yet, but I’m open to suggestions. Fans, do your thing. Let’s hear some suggestions. Something witty and funny.”

Manager Luis Rojas was unaware of the horse when he glanced to his right at one point during the game and “freaked out” at the sight of it. But Rojas couldn’t have been too surprised; these Mets have become known for their quirks. Earlier this season, Alonso was among those who helped create a fictional “approach coach,” Donnie Stevenson, who found his likeness printed on T-shirts and even shown on the center-field scoreboard. The Mets have also turned their postgame celebrations into an art form, complete with smoke machines and laser lights.

The Home Run Horse is simply an extension of that chemistry, this time courtesy of Quattlebaum. And as long as it keeps working -- Alonso hit two homers on Friday, giving him four in his last four games -- the horse will keep riding.

“The horse was in the dugout and I hit two homers,” Alonso said. “So we’ll see, but I think it’s working so far.”