Michael Baron, Contributor
This past Sunday, Nestle and the Mets hosted a charity whiffle ball tournament in the parking lot at Citi Field, which benefitted the Madision Square Boys and Girls Club.
During the event, I talked with Edgardo Alfonzo, who was a guest of honor and coach for one of the whiffle ball teams made up of kids from the Boys and Girls Club, as well as other Mets bloggers.
Here is my Q&A with Alfonzo, during which he discusses his early playing days with the organization, his experiences in the big leagues, and playing in the World Series in 2000:
Edgardo Alfonzo: This year, I’ve played my last season in Venezulan Winter Ball. Now I’m finally deciding to reitre completelety as an active player. I’ve played for 17 years. A great career. I’ve been so happy about it. It’s time to give back to my family.
Michael Baron: You came up through the system as a shortstop?
Edgardo Alfonzo: I signed as a shortstop. I was a prospect as a shortstop with the Mets. A little at second, a little at short. In Double-A, I was a shortstop until they signed Rey Ordonez. After they signed Ordonez, they asked me if I could play second base. They knew I could do it, So I moved over and there’s the combination that everybody liked to see. We did pretty well. We won the championship in Double-A
The next year I came to the big leagues. I went to training camp. I was working out at three positions as a utility guy. That was the best news that I got from Dallas Green. He told me “Get ready to play in New York.”
Michael Baron: You got some time at third base, too?
Edgardo Alfonzo: When I got the chance to play everyday, it was at third base. I never played third before. I signed as a shortstop, then moved to second base. The only time I had to play third every day, it was when they were going to trade Bobby Bonilla to Baltimore to open a spot for me. So I went down to winter ball to work hard and learn about that position.
Michael Baron: What was your favorite position to play?
Edgardo Alfonzo: Second base for me was one of my best positions because I was more in tune with the game. Third base was good, but to me, I would choose second base.
Michael Baron: Tell me about the grand slam in 1999 in Arizona…
Edgardo Alfonzo: That was my favorite video that I have at home. It was fun because we had to play the extra game in Cincy, and we came in all fired up to Arizona. The only bad thing was we had to face Randy Johnson in the first game. That opportunity coming was the last thing I was thinking about… to hit a home run. I had the bases loaded. He fell behind in the count. I thought, ‘He’s in trouble.’ He threw me the ball and I don’t feel anything out of my bat. It was a fastball. It was 3-2, or something like that.
As soon as I saw that ball, I don’t feel anything in my bat. Right off the barrell. I smoked that ball. The next things was, is it going to be fair or foul? Then the ball landed in the second deck and I thought, ‘I crushed that one.’ As I was going around the bases, I didn’t believe it.
Michael Baron: Game 2 with Piazza and the bat… What was the dugout thinking?
Edgardo Alfonzo: It was a surprise. In that particular game, in that situation, with [Roger] Clemens doing that, people say, ‘Well, Piazza should have charged the mound.’ I think he did it right. If he would’ve charged the mound, he would have been out of the game. We didn’t need that. He would’ve gotten thrown out of the game.
I think it was the wrong thing for Roger to do that. The game… The world series… So many peop[le watching. He said he got confused… that he thought that was the baseball. You’ve gotta be on something to think that.
Michael Baron: Houston in 1999… You went 6-6 that day. What was it about that day?
Edgardo Alfonzo: It was a special day. I was so comfortable at the plate. And everytihing was right. My mechanincs, my timing, everything was perfect. Having so much comfort, I let them get it to two strikes, and then boom, I hit it.
Just one of those days where everything worked pretty well. That’s another favorite video I have. I watch it all the time. That was a great game for me. Whatever I did, it was working the right way for me. One of those days you never forget.
Michael Baron: What was your favorite park to hit in?
Edgardo Alfonzo: Dodger Stadium. It is so open. I don’t know what it was there, but it was good for me to play. I just felt comfortable there. One of the stadiums I hit the best at.