13 days left ’til the season begins, 13 is a pretty popular number amongst Mets players of my era, one could think of Lee Mazzilli’s second tenure in NY, or most recently Billy Wagner’s runs from the ‘pen to the tune of Enter Sandman. However, when I think #13, I mostly think of Edgardo Alfonzo, first of all he has my name which is always a way to get to be one of my favorite players. Eddie Alfonzo was one of the lone bright spots through those mid-90′s teams that reminded us more the early 1960′s then the mid-80′s.
Edgardo came into his own in ’97 when he got his first full season as he played over 120 games for the first time. In ’97, he batted .315 and by ’99 he added 27 homers an 108 RBI’s to his .304 average. The Mets started to become competitive again in ’98 and Fonzie was big part of the Mets revival, after barely missing the ’98 playoffs the Mets would make it in ’99 largely in part to Fonzie and second year Met Mike Piazza.
Fonzie proved clutch as he hit the homer run in the Wild Card play-in game to put the Mets ahead behind Al Leiter’s complete game. Fonzie would top that with a 2 HR game vs the D-Backs in game 1 on the NLDS. He second bomb was a tie breaking grand slam which gave the Mets an 8-4 win and a 1-0 series lead. Fonzie also had a big series in the NLDS in 2000 vs the Giants. He hit a bomb before JT Snow’s homer and tied up game 3 with a clutch double, a game in which the Mets would end up winning.
Edgardo also is credited with having one the greatest games ever for a Mets, in a 17-1 blowout over Houston in 1999, Fonzie went 6 for 6. Three of those hits were home runs, one a double, as he had 6 runs scored and 5 RBI’s. Fonzie was also credited by his teammates as being a very underrated superstar during his big years of ’98-’00. Fonzie would end up suffering many injuries and was unable to ever regain the form that we had seen in ’98, ’99 and ’00.
Fonzie has several more decent years before leaving as free agent in ’03. He joined San Francisco, later moving on to Anaheim, Toronto, then Bridgeport, a minor league stint with the Mets, the Ducks, the Rangers, the Mexican leagues and lastly Eddie spent ’09 in Japan. Eddie clearly has a passion for the game and would go anywhere to play it. He is a sad case as he had such a promising career ahead of him and his injuries fizzled his career out at an age when most players are just coming into their own. Eddie Alfonzo will always have a big place in Met fan hearts for coming up through the farm systems and helping the Mets make the playoffs two consecutive years for the first and only time in history.