Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Fan's Fond Memory

Recently, I enlightened you to my childhood idol, Jerry Grote. Well, like life, being a fan has its stages. If you have read my profile, you know my teenage favorites were, in no particular order, Mookie, Darryl, and Keith Hernandez.

This entry, I will deal with my adult stage favorite. This player was the most selfless player I can remember, showed shades of brilliance, power, versatility, and was the classiest individual on a talented team. The classiest Met I have ever had the pleasure of watching, day in and day out - Edgardo Antonio Alfonzo.

Alfonzo was originally a SS, but moved to 2B, when the Mets drafted Rey Ordonez. For the next eight years, he continued to switch between 2B and 3B, playing Gold Glove caliber defense. He never complained when the Mets traded for Robin Ventura (1999), and he had to move back to 2B, and then, when Ventura left (after 2001), he switched back to 2B.

Fonzie had a knack for hitting well to all fields, especially RF. He hit well with two strikes, showed power, and hit for respectable batting averages. Fonzie developed into a reliable two strike hitter. He was difficult to strike out, and with two strikes, he would shorten his swing, and drive the ball the opposite way, to RF. He was a very accomplished hit and run batter.

That all being said, Alfonzo was, other than Keith Hernandez and Rusty Staub, the smartest ball player to have worn a Met uniform. I never witnessed him make a "dumb" mistake. He always knew what to do in any given situation. His best year, 2000, he hit .324, 25 HR, 94 RBI, .425 OBP, .542 SLG, .967 OPS with 95 BB. For more of Edgardo Alfonzo's stats, log onto ESPN Click Here

Alfonzo served as a mentor to Latin players who came through the Mets organization. The volatile Rey Ordonez, was usually causing trouble, or putting his foot in his mouth. On one occasion, Ordonez was being interviewed, and was being unprofessional. Alfonzo had pulled Ordonez to the side, spoke to him in Spanish, straightened him out, and then sent him back to the interviewer, where Ordonez finished the interview professionally.

I had the pleasure of watching Alfonzo play live, at Shea, many times. Once, I was almost lucky enough to see him hit a long ball, if it weren’t for my son persuading me to take him to the bathroom. I had to watch the instant replay, on the TV at the concession stand. Yes, my son is still alive.

When Alfonzo’s skills started to deteriorate, at too young of an age, the Mets decided not to offer him a contract after the 2002 season. Alfonzo, in his last act of classiness as a Met, put billboards on NYC taxi cabs (see photo) saying, "Fonzie Loves NY. Edgardo Thanks You” . Speaking for many fans, NY loved having you on our team Fonzie. You showed how classy intelligent athletes can excel, and be the best at what they do. This great sport of baseball needs more individuals like Edgardo Antonio Alfonzo.


Long Island Met Fan said...

It was a shame that his back/or just his age did him in . When he was up you knew something good was going to happen. I saw him last year play for the ducks . He didnt have the range in the field but he still had a nice 2 out 2 strike double in a key situation.

build the farm system said...

Another great "A Fan's Fond Memory" article. Alfonzo was class. This organization could use him as a coach, when he's done playing.

"Yes, my son is still alive." LOL !!!

I think Alfonzo's age may be like El Duque's age, estimated to be 3 to 10 years too young.

He was a lot of fun, and a great Met. With the hiring trend being bilingual employees, who can talk to the Latin players, Alfonzo should be given a coaching opportunity.

metsfan73 said...

I have always felt that Alfonzo would make a great coach/manager. I could see him being the Gil Hodges type (no offense to Hodges, just in demeanor). He is quiet, respected, and has a real understanding of the game that most ball players of this era don't have.
As I have stated before, I would love to see him in the Mets farm system as a coach/manager, and would be real neat seeing him in Flushing one day in one of these capacities.

Long Island Met Fan said...

I agree about him coaching. His brother was doing it here for a while. Im sure once he realizes he cant play anymore he might come knocking....