Alonso fulfills HR Derby donation promise

Slugger donates $50k to Wounded Warriors Project, Tunnel to Towers

July 27th, 2019

NEW YORK -- Three oversized checks took up most of the stage Friday in the Citi Field press conference room. One was worth $1 million -- Pete Alonso’s prize for winning the T-Mobile Home Run Derby earlier this month.

The other two did not have to be there. There was no expectation for Alonso, whose regular salary is barely half the $1 million he won in the Derby, to donate any portion of his winnings. But Alonso decided to do so and made good on his promise Friday, giving $50,000 to the Wounded Warrior Foundation and $50,000 to Tunnel to Towers, a Staten Island non-profit that aids first responders and their families.

“I just wanted to show my gratitude and appreciation by donating to these awesome organizations that are going to help a ton of people,” Alonso said. “I’m blessed every single day. I just want to use my platform for good, and bring awareness to these causes, and hopefully other people can be inspired to help out.”

To win the Derby in Cleveland, Alonso hit 57 home runs, including 23 in the final round to best fellow rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“What Pete did on the field is pretty amazing,” said Mike Linnington, CEO of the Wounded Warriors Project. “It was an amazing feat. And for Pete to take his notoriety to raise awareness for what our nation’s men and women have done in uniform, and come home to wounds both visible and invisible, recognizing organizations that serve them the way we do, is really pretty special.”

Alonso has long harbored interest in military organizations, given that he has multiple grandparents who are veterans. He also holds significant respect for the types of first responders and their families that Tunnel to Towers aims to help. Several of them were on hand Friday, serving as active reminders of what donations such as Alonso’s can do.

“Why we’re here today is to honor that sacrifice of men and women who are willing to die for me, for you, and for everybody else, so we can be in this country -- so Pete can hit these home runs,” said Tunnel to Towers CEO Frank Siller, whose brother was an off-duty firefighter killed responding to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. “And God put him in a position where he can do some good.”

Diaz OK

The Mets avoided the worst with closer Edwin Diaz, who suffered no broken bones after taking a 100-mph comebacker off his foot in Thursday’s game. Diaz played catch Friday with no ill effects, afterward declaring himself available for that night’s game.

“I feel great,” Diaz said through an interpreter. “Thank God it was nothing worse. … I was thinking, 'Hopefully nothing was broken.' I just needed to get out of there to get it checked out.”

The Mets decided to play things cautiously, however, using Seth Lugo instead of Diaz in the ninth inning of their 6-3 win over the Pirates. Diaz should be available Saturday.

“He said he felt great,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “Since it’s his landing foot, and that’s the foot he’s got to brace off of and pop up on, we decided, ‘Let’s give him one more day.’ And Lugo went and got the job done.”

Alumni return

When Mariano Rivera entered the National Baseball Hall of Fame last weekend, Jay Payton had a chance to reflect on his own 12-year Major League career. The Mets’ first-round Draft pick in 1994, Payton’s career highlights included a home run off Rivera in the 2000 World Series, making him one of only two players to homer against Rivera in a postseason game.

“I still get people calling me today being like, ‘Was that you?’” Payton said. “I’m like, ‘That was me.’ That’s my little claim to fame, I guess, my little trivia question.”

Payton was at Citi Field for the first time Friday as part of the Mets’ continuing commitment to reconnect with their alumni. Also in attendance was Butch Huskey, a Met from 1991-98 who now resides in Oklahoma.