Mets' Alonso buys custom 9/11 cleats for teammates
NEW YORK (AP) — Pete Alonso has been full of surprises during a memorable rookie season with the Mets. For fans in his new home city, his gesture Wednesday night might be the biggest home run yet.
Alonso coordinated the purchase and production of custom 9/11 cleats for Mets players to wear on the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The shoes were painted red, white and blue and included "We will never forget" and lettering for first responder units.
Following the Mets' 9-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, Alonso said he wanted to design hats the Mets could wear on the field, but that idea was rejected by Major League Baseball, which hasn't allowed the Mets to wear first responder hats during games since 2001.
"I think it's kind of sad that first game back, they've kind of shot it down every single year since," Alonso said. "It's real unfortunate. So a way to kind of get around that was the cleats."
Alonso said he went around the Mets locker room and collected shoe sizes and preferred brands for each teammate. He said he didn't contact Major League Baseball about the cleats.
"I feel like if Major League Baseball kind of got their hands on it, it may not have been approved," Alonso said. "But I'm really happy that we kind of banded together here in the clubhouse and made something cool happen."
The cleats were just the latest in Alonso's efforts to assist those impacted by the attacks. After winning the All-Star Home Run Derby in July, Alonso donated $50,000 of his $1 million prize to the Tunnels to Towers Foundation.
Prior to the first pitch Wednesday night, children who lost parents or grandparents to 9/11-related illnesses ran to each position before being joined by the Mets' starters. Alonso gave autographed baseballs to the two children at first base.
"It's not just the victims, it's the scars left behind, like someone missing their mom or missing their dad," Alonso said. "For me, I can't imagine what that's like. The toll isn't necessarily all taken on that day, it's progressively after because there's not someone there in their family. It's different from then on."
Both the Mets and Diamondbacks wore first responder hats during batting practice, then lined up on their respective baselines alongside firefighters, police and EMTs prior to the national anthem.
The Mets ended the game with nine runs on 11 hits.