Alonso launches Homers for Heroes foundation

April 22nd, 2020

NEW YORK -- Shortly after won the 2019 Home Run Derby, making good on his promise to donate 10 percent of his winnings to the nonprofit organizations Tunnel to Towers and the Wounded Warrior Project, he had a chance to see the effect of his work. Representatives from both organizations came to Citi Field, as well as the recipients of Alonso’s generosity -- right there in the flesh, in front of his eyes. The scene, for both Alonso and those he helped, was emotional.

From that point forward, Alonso craved the idea of doing more, but he wasn’t sure how best to focus his philanthropy. Months later, he and his fiancée, Haley Walsh, were still mulling that problem when the solution struck them.

“Basically, it was like, ‘Well, why do we need to focus on one specific thing?’” Alonso recalled Wednesday in a phone interview. “And the answer to that was, ‘We don’t.’ We just want to help as many people as possible. … We want to be fluid with the world around us.”

By January, Alonso had begun drawing up the papers for his own foundation, which launched Wednesday at Working with Regina Miller, one of the executives behind Clayton Kershaw’s foundation, Alonso created an organization with no distinct focus outside of its mission “to recognize the outstanding work of our heroes and inspire others to be a hero in others’ lives.” Each month, Alonso and Walsh plan to sift through nominations to decide where to direct their resources.

“I want to give people that opportunity not just to show appreciation, but also [to] help those people that have had impacts and that are doing good and that are on a mission trying to help others,” Alonso said. “For us, we’re not just trying to help other people, but we’re trying to inspire and light a spark in other people as well.”

Throughout his record-setting rookie season, in which he hit 53 home runs and established himself as one of baseball’s most vibrant young superstars, Alonso spoke of his desire to be remembered as “not just a good baseball player … but a good human being.” He has become such an outspoken leader that, despite being 25 years old and a veteran of only one big league season, Alonso is frequently referenced as a potential future captain. Projects like his Homers for Heroes foundation reveal why.

Of course, Alonso wants to be known as a good baseball player, too, which is why he continues to work out rigorously near his Tampa-area home. Training in a barn with Ryan Rigau of Athlete Retreat, Alonso has been running through his typical offseason workouts -- walking on a mat covered with rocks, flipping oversized tires and, of course, more traditional weightlifting. To keep his hitting eye sharp, Alonso takes swings using a virtual-reality machine that allows him to simulate any pitcher in baseball.

“It’s been a very tiny and small workout group, but we’re making the best of it by using private facilities and being as careful as possible,” Alonso said.

Much of his free time has gone toward the greater good. Last month, Alonso spent time video chatting with a terminal cancer patient who is a diehard Mets fan. He has participated in public service announcements regarding the coronavirus pandemic, and he has personally thanked doctors at four Atlantic Health System hospitals in New Jersey.

Now, he has a foundation with the scope to help people on a larger scale.

“I’m blessed with what I have,” Alonso said. “I’m blessed to be a New York Met. I’m blessed to be a professional baseball player, and I want to make the most of my opportunity and use my platform and my likeness for good.”