New York Mets

Pete Alonso on baseball cards, the Mets’ new manager and 2020 expectations

Mets Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso rips open the first pack of baseball cards to kickoff the Topps Series 1 Million Card Rip Party Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Brandon Wade/AP Images for Topps)

Reigning NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso helped debut the latest Topps box set while discussing new Mets manager Luis Rojas, seeing himself on cards and more.

Pete Alonso remembers the first time he saw himself on a baseball card – both unofficial and very official.

“Yep! I was in Little League at 8 years old when I first saw myself on an unofficial baseball card,” Alonso said via email. “It was a huge and special moment for me when I saw myself on my first professional baseball card. I’ll never forget it.”

The reigning National League Rookie of the Year said that it was always a goal to see himself on a real card one day after getting a taste of it in little league.

Now, Alonso graces the front of the latest Topps box set, something he called “incredibly special.”

Tyler Smith finds a Pete Alonso baseball card, the face of the Topps Series 1 packaging, during the Topps Million Card Rip Party Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Brandon Wade/AP Images for Topps)

Alonso appeared last week at a Topps event, the Million Card Rip Party, where he and collectors opened more than a million cards and helped debut the 68th annual Topps Series 1, a 330-card set.

“This is a fun event,” Alonso said. “Being in a room filled with baseball enthusiasts is always a good time.”

As the New York Mets open spring training this week, they do it with a new manager, one who Alonso knows well. The Mets appointed Luis Rojas as their second managerial pick of the offseason after previous choice Carlos Beltran was let go for being implicated in the Astros sign-stealing scandal.

Alonso, who played for Rojas in the minor leagues, believes the new manager is “extremely qualified.”

“He’s managed at every level in the minor leagues, he’s won championships, he’s done it all,” Alonso said. “He’s always willing to help and contribute. He’s completely invested in his players and wants the best for them. Also – he’s as cool as a cucumber. No panic, no stress. I’m excited and he’s a great guy to play for.”

Mets Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso helps kickoff the launch of the Topps Series 1 baseball cards during the Million Card Rip Party Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Brandon Wade/AP Images for Topps)

Alonso opens the season with big expectations on his shoulders. After hitting an major league best 53 home runs as a rookie, he will be looking to avoid a sophomore slump and lead the Mets back to the playoffs which they have missed out on for the past three years.

“Well, I just want to be the best I could possibly be,” Alonso said. “I want to keep working meticulously and work on the little details in my game. I want to be the best and ultimately be a champion. Winning a world series is the ultimate goal for 2020.”

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