Thursday, May 27, 2010
#475) EDGARDO ALFONZO
The New York Mets began something special when they signed a young Venezuelan infielder as a free agent on February 19, 1991. Edgardo Alfonzo would play four years in the minor league system before making his major league debut on April 26, 1995. He made the jump from Double-A Binghamton to New York and enjoyed great success during his rookie season. "Fonzie" had been a natural shortstop early in his career, but proved he also had the ability to play all the infield positions. Alfonzo finished up with a .278 batting average and 41 RBIs. The year ending early when a herniated disc in his back forced him to the disabled list in August.
Edgardo's versatilty would be tested throughout his time with the Mets. Alfonzo moved to second base when the club added Rey Ordoñez as their slick-fielding shortstop. Then later moved to third base when Carlos Baerga came to New York. Only to again become the everyday second baseman in 1999 when the team brought in Robin Ventura. "I told the Mets if we're going to be a better team, I'll give it a chance," Alfonzo said. "I mean, I've played there before."
The 1999 Mets infield of Alfonzo, Ventura, Ordoñez, and John Olerud has often been referred to as "The Best Infield Ever". The quartet was featured on a Sports Illustrated cover proclaiming just that. For his efforts that year, Edgardo was selected to the National League Silver Slugger team after logging career bests in home runs (27) and RBIs (108).
Alfonzo had one of the greatest single games by a New York Met on August 30, 1999. He went six-for-six at the plate with three home runs, as the Mets defeated the Houston Astros by a score of 17-1. Edgardo scored a modern major league record six times and drove in five runs. "Tonight I just started having a good time and enjoying every at-bat," Fonzie said. "It's fun when you do good and win. I really enjoyed this game. It was one of those nights when everything was going well."
He was a member of the 2000 National League Champions that fell to the New York Yankees in the World Series. Alfonzo was named to his first Major League All-Star team that year.
When Ventura left the club, and Roberto Alomar was brought in to play second base, Edgardo willingly returned to playing third base during his final season in New York. The Mets chose not to resign their star over a dispute concerning contract length. He joined the San Francisco Giants as a free agent on December 15, 2002.
Alfonzo was in attendance with former Mets teammates, including Mike Piazza, and John Franco for the final game played at Shea Stadium in 2008. "It was fun, but I felt confused," said Edgardo. "In that moment I was feeling old, but I was only 35. Everybody asked what I was doing. I said, 'I still play.'"
Hoping for one last season, Fonzie was interviewed before the 2010 season. "My dream is to retire with the Mets colors," Alfonzo said. "That's my dream. It's what I'm praying for, maybe it will happen, maybe not, but dreams sometimes come true, you know." He continued, "I love the Mets and I love the Mets fans. I would like that dream to come true."
Edgardo Alfonzo signed his card in the set for my friend, Lou after the New York Yankees and New York Mets game at Citi Field on May 22, 2010. Fonzie was part of the 10th anniversary celebration of the 2000 World Series team that night.