TAMPA, Fla. - Tampa native and New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso has won the National League Rookie of the Year award. With a rookie record 53 home runs and 120 RBI, Monday's announcement was a mere formality, with Alonso winning 29 of 30 first-place votes.
Last week, Alonso gave FOX 13 a tour of his former Little League field, where he was still able to point out places his home run blasts banged off.
"If I were to hit a sign, during a game, or hit it over a sign, we would go eat at that restaurant after the game," Alonso told FOX 13's Evan Axelbank.
His name is still on the signs at the field, markers of championships and all-star teams, proof that Tampa will always be home.
He said both his mom and dad threw batting practice to him.
"My mom is in those cages there, I still remember which cage she was in, she's throwing me batting practice before a game," he pointed to the fences.
The Mets' Big Bopper has developed a cult following. Women propose to him on Twitter, superfans make custom t-shirts, and guessing games about home run distances run wild.
Once, he donated part of his Home Run Derby winnings to the Wounded Warriors and his custom cleats to the 9/11 Memorial. Calls grew for him to become the next Mets captain.
"I just think of myself as just a kid, you know?" he said. "This is what I do, I am lucky I get to play a game for a living."
When he broke Yankee Aaron Judge's single-season rookie home run record, he was seen crying on the field between innings. He wasn't even guaranteed a roster spot before the season.
"I was just so overcome with raw emotion," he said. "I know where I come from. I have had no plan B, ever. This is the only thing I have ever wanted to do."
Playing catch at his old Little League field, the ballplayer with the elephant-like memory suddenly had time to think about the future.
"I don't want this to be a one-year type thing," he added. "I want to be successful throughout my career. Hopefully I can play 15-plus years in the big leagues."