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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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52 Pickup

Pete Alonso hit his 52nd home run of the season for the New York Mets Friday night at Citi Field in their 4-2 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Pete Alonso hit his 52nd home run of the season for the New York Mets.

A New York Met named Pete Alonso has hit 52 home runs.

A New York Met rookie named Pete Alonso has hit 52 home runs.

A New York Met rookie named Pete Alonso has hit the most home runs any rookie has ever hit for any team in any league, 52.

Pete Alonso of the New York Mets shares the record for most home runs hit by any rookie in any league, having tied Aaron Judge’s 2017 mark of 52 Friday night, with two games of 2019 remaining.

Pete Alonso has 52 home runs.

Pete Alonso of the New York Mets has 52 home runs.

Pete Alonso is a New York Mets rookie and he has hit 52 home runs, the most in the major leagues in 2019, whether hit by a fresh-faced rookie or grizzled veteran.

Pete Alonso’s 52nd home run, a first-inning solo shot off Braves starter Dallas Keuchel that clanged off the blue wall above the orange line in left field, halved the Braves’ 2-0 lead.

Two innings after hitting his 52nd home run for the New York Mets, Pete Alonso walked, tying the club’s rookie record for most walks in a season, 72, which had been set by Lee Mazzilli in 1977 and tied by Ike Davis in 2010.

Two innings after hitting his 52nd home run for the New York Mets, Pete Alonso’s 72nd walk of 2019 led to Pete Alonso’s 101st run of the season, via Amed Rosario’s game-tying RBI single.

Pete Alonso has scored 101 runs for the New York Mets in his rookie season, 52 of them crossing the plate upon home runs Pete Alonso hit as a rookie for the New York Mets.

Three innings after hitting his 52nd home run for the New York Mets, Pete Alonso was among many Mets congratulating J.D. Davis for hitting his 21st home run of the season, which put the Mets ahead to stay, 4-2.

In hitting his 52nd home run for the New York Mets in his rookie season, Pete Alonso boosted Marcus Stroman (6 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 8 SO) toward a win in the final start of his first, albeit partial Met season.

In hitting his 52nd home run for the New York Mets in his rookie season, Pete Alonso has hit them all in his only major league season to date; unlike Judge as a rookie (or Stroman as a Met), Pete Alonso has no season fragments on his ledger — Pete Alonso is a pure rookie hitting 52 home runs in his rookie season.

In hitting his 52nd home run for the New York Mets in his rookie season, Pete Alonso helped ensure there’d be a lead for Jeurys Familia to protect in the seventh with a scoreless inning of relief.

In hitting his 52nd home run for the New York Mets in his rookie season, Pete Alonso pushed the single-season Met home run record (52) ahead of Familia’s single-season Met saves record (51), the first time since 2001 that the Met single-season home run record (which was held by Todd Hundley, with 41) has stood taller than the Met single-season saves record (which was exceeded by Armando Benitez, with 43).

Comparing Pete Alonso’s New York Mets single-season home run record of 52 with Jeurys Familia’s single-season saves record of 51 might be akin to comparing apples and oranges, but the numbers are similar, so let’s say Pete Alonso, with 52 home runs, has one more kumquat than Jeurys Familia ever had.

In hitting his 52nd home run for the New York Mets in his rookie season, Pete Alonso set the stage for Six-Out Seth Lugo to record his final two-inning save of 2019.

In recording his sixth save of 2019, Seth Lugo pulled to within 19 saves of team leader Edwin Diaz, whose 25 saves lag 27 kumquats behind the single-season team-record 52 home runs Pete Alonso has hit for the New York Mets as a rookie.

In hitting his 52nd home run for the New York Mets in his rookie season, Pete Alonso drove in his 119th run, placing him one behind Robin Ventura’s 1999 total of 120 and five behind New York Mets single-season co-leaders Mike Piazza (1999) and David Wright (2008), each of whom drove in 124 runs.

In hitting his 52nd home run for the New York Mets in his rookie season, Pete Alonso moved into a tie for 40th place on the all-time career Mets home run chart, alongside Bernard Gilkey and Frank Thomas, each of whom played parts of three seasons as a Met.

The 52nd home run of Pete Alonso’s rookie season for the New York Mets was also his 26th home run at Citi Field, which places him 10th among all Mets in regular-season home runs hit at Citi Field in their careers as Mets; the nine Mets in front of him each played at least three seasons as Mets.

The 52nd home run of Pete Alonso’s rookie season for the New York Mets places him as ninth among Met home run hitters in the current decade, a ten-season span two games from ending; the nine Mets in front of him each played at least three seasons as a Mets.

The 52nd home run of Pete Alonso’s rookie season for the New York Mets includes 22 home runs in the 70 games the Mets have played since the All-Star break, which encompassed the Home Run Derby that Pete Alonso won and the Home Run Derby that inspired fretting that Pete Alonso would ruin his rookie season by participating in.

The 52nd home run of Pete Alonso’s rookie season for the New York Mets came in the Mets’ 160th game of 2019, which leaves just enough opportunity for Pete Alonso to hit 54 home runs in his rookie season, which would match exactly his pace of 30 through the 90 games the Mets played before the All-Star break, which encompassed the Home Run Derby that apparently didn’t derail Pete Alonso’s rookie season.

Pete Alonso has played in 159 of the Mets’ 160 games in 2019, tying him with Lee Mazzilli, in 1977, for most games played for the Mets in a rookie season, though Mazzilli had a partial season with the Mets in 1976, and Pete Alonso is playing as a pure rookie in 2019…and has hit 52 home runs for the New York Mets.

In hitting his 52nd home run for the New York Mets in his rookie season, Pete Alonso broke the record for most home runs hit by a New York National League player; Johnny Mize (1947) and Willie Mays (1955) each hit 51 for the New York Giants.

Pete Alonso’s total of 52 home runs as a New York Met in his rookie season matches the highest home run total in reached by any player in baseball over the course of the first thirty-five seasons that the Mets existed; until Mark McGwire hit 52 home runs for the Oakland A’s in 1996, the only players to hit 52 home runs for anyone were Willie Mays (52 in 1965) and George Foster (52 in 1977).

If you grew up as I did in the 1970s, the idea of a player hitting 50 or more home runs was almost unfathomable. From Babe Ruth in 1920 to Willie Mays in 1965, only nine different players had done it. The names belonged either to Hall of Famers whose immortality had already been certified, Hall of Famers awaiting their inevitable induction, or legends who owned an indelible association with their single-season home run exploits: Ruth, Hack Wilson, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Mize, our own Ralph Kiner, Mays, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris. I’d comb the tables that listed their accomplishments and be unable to imagine anything like it happening in modern times. Mays was the only one I’d seen play, and that was after he’d topped 50 twice.

When George Foster came along in 1977 to hit 52 home runs, it was astounding. It was something nobody in my sentient baseball fan experience had done. I saw Harmon Killebrew’s 49 on the 1970 Topps card celebrating the 1969 American League home run leaders and assumed that was the ceiling for a modern player. When Willie Stargell hit 48 in 1971, with Hank Aaron hitting 47, I was certain that was as good as home run-hitting could get while I was paying close attention. It was like when, as a kid of six or seven, I saw a commercial for an oil company that was sponsoring a contest (Shell, I think) where the grand prize was $5,000. They made such a big deal out of it, that I took it to mean $5,000 was the largest sum of money one could ever get one’s hands on at once. Conversely, I’d hear the phrase “a million dollars,” and believe it was a cartoonish exaggeration — along the lines of “50 home runs”.

Then Foster, already established as a dangerous RBI man for the Cincinnati Reds, got going in 1977 and not only hit 50 home runs but passed 50 home runs, hitting 52. I was fourteen that season. I’d been watching baseball since I was six. This was a first for me. It was unbelievable. I don’t remember much being made of it the way later home run accumulations would be covered. Foster didn’t close in on Maris’s 61 or Wilson’s 56, but what he did was earth-shattering and mind-blowing nonetheless. He’d hit a total that hadn’t been touched in a dozen years and wouldn’t be touched again for another nineteen years, as only Cecil Fielder, with 51 in 1990, topped (or touched) 50 between Foster and McGwire.

This helps explain why I was so incredibly excited when the Mets traded for George Foster in 1982, and why, despite his being long past his 52 home run prime by then, I never fully gave up on Foster until the middle of 1986, when he sort of asked to be given up on.

This helps explain why I maintained a low-level lack of affinity for otherwise innocent and capable Danny Heep during his Met tenure that began in 1983, because Heep, the dependable fourth outfielder archetype, was inevitably the people’s choice to replace Foster, the fallen superstar, in left on an everyday basis, whenever Foster slumped. “Don’t you people understand that this is George Foster?” I screamed in my head, since I didn’t have a blog back then. “Danny Heep? You want Danny Heep? George Foster still hits home runs…he hit 52, an unfathomable total, in 1977!”

This helps explain why the home run of Foster’s that I remember most clearly is his 53rd.

George Foster’s 53rd home run was reported by Jonathan Schwartz over WNEW-AM on the Monday night after the 1977 regular season ended.

Schwartz, pausing from playing Sinatra, was blandly reading major league updates, as if it was just another Monday night during the baseball season — this game and that game; I wasn’t really listening.

“George Foster has hit his 53rd for the Reds,” Schwartz said, which perked my ears up, especially considering I knew damn well that the regular season was over and Foster had finished it with 52.

I realized the baseball-loving DJ was doing theater-of-the-mind shtick, pretending the season was still in progress, which was very clever, yet a little disappointing, because for several seconds, I was convinced George Foster had just hit his 53rd home run.

This helps explain why, well after Foster had retired, and elevated home run totals became not altogether uncommon, I cheered just about everybody who broke statistical barriers and never got overly bothered by the abnormal physical states of those doing the hitting.

This helps explain why, when revelations began to confirm what was fairly evident about the abnormal physical states of those who had more home runs than I could imagine in the 1970s, I still couldn’t get overly bothered, because…wow, somebody hit more than 50…more than 60…more than 70 home runs.

This helps explain why, perhaps, what stays with me most from the era when 50 home runs seemed little more than mildly noteworthy was a game at Shea with about a week to go in 1998 season. DiamondVision showed Mark McGwire being robbed of his 65th home run at Milwaukee in the same game that he hit his 64th, and I remember thinking something along the lines of, “my god, we’re living in an age when 64th and 65th home runs are mentioned as fairly routine parts of between-innings game updates” and marveled at the contemporary more than I mourned for a past when just one guy hit 52 home runs and, otherwise, nobody ever hit more than 49.

This helps explain why, more than tying Judge’s record for rookie home runs or breaking Familia’s record for Met kumquats, I’m so psyched by Pete Alonso hitting 52 home runs.

He’s tied George Foster.

He’s done what I couldn’t grasp as a kid.

He’s done what I saw only once as a teen.

He’s done it while I’m an adult…and I can only kind of grasp what he’s done and thus have to keep repeating it to make certain it’s really happened.

Pete Alonso has hit 52 home runs.

For the New York Mets.

As a rookie, with two games to go in his pure rookie season.

WOW!

10 comments to 52 Pickup

  • eric1973

    Greg, I feel the same, as turning 12 years old during 1977, it was unbelievable that someone could hit over 50, especially Foster, who was a pretty skinny guy, the opposite of a Killebrew or a Frank Howard, or a compact Willie Mays.

    And when the Mets got him, and they had Foster, Kingman, and Ellis Valentine in the same lineup, I thought we were going to be unbeatable.

    And speaking of kumquats, when that Garrett guy pitching against the Mets limped around, and then sprinted off the field, fooling everyone, Howie Rose said, “What a Kumquat!” Hilarious comment.

    Was anybody else rooting for Freeman to hit a HR off Lugo last nite so Alonso could get another at-bat in the bottom of thr 9th? At least I am admitting it, as we are among friends.

  • Michael in CT

    IMHO, the steroid guys with their inflated home run totals don’t count. Fifty is still a monumental number of home runs (even if the ball is somehow livelier this year). Alonso has done something very special. May he continue to do so as a Met for years to come. 2019 will always be remembered as his astounding rookie year.

    FYI, nobody hit 50 or more homers in the 1980s.

  • NostraDennis

    How many is that now?

  • Lenny65

    I grew up in the same era and I couldn’t possibly relate more. A Met with 53 home runs in a season…it doesn’t fully compute yet.

  • Richard Porricelli

    Season has been an odd mix of terrific individual achievements and stumbling disappointments..I wish Pete’s year could carry over to October , but all in all its been a fun ride!..
    I’m over 50 years a Mets fan and I never thought I would see a 50 HR year..Well done!!!