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Pete Alonso Brings His Endless Enthusiasm to the Home Run Derby

“Peter’s happy-go-lucky, he’s a teddy bear — so Polar Bear fits him perfectly,” said the former Mets prospect Justin Dunn, who was traded to Seattle last December, referring to Alonso’s nickname. “I never call him Polar Bear, but I definitely call him my big little teddy bear. He’s just something special. He’s amazing.”

Alonso flew to Cleveland with the Mets’ other All-Stars, starter Jacob deGrom and outfielder Jeff McNeil. Perhaps surprisingly for a team 10 games under .500, the Mets have three no-doubt All-Stars; deGrom is again one of baseball’s best starters, and McNeil is the majors’ leading hitter, at .349. DeGrom, who earned his third All-Star selection this year, told his teammates to relax and have fun, and he said they had gotten the message — especially Alonso.

“I think he has fun doing just about anything,” deGrom said, laughing.

At his interview table on Monday afternoon, Alonso gamely responded to waves of unusual questions. He professed his love for Chinese food to a reporter from Asia. He told another reporter that he prefers the Billy Ray Cyrus version of “Old Town Road” to the original. He said that if he had to get a tattoo of a teammate, he would want a “mean-looking squirrel” as a tribute to McNeil, whose nickname is Flying Squirrel.

Alonso also spoke at length about his respect for Mets fans, the way they stick with the team without jumping to support the Yankees. When asked for the craziest interaction he has had with a fan, Alonso gave a heartfelt reply.

“This little boy, he drew a picture of me — but I wasn’t me, I was a polar bear, and he had a ball and a bat,” Alonso said. “His name is Niko, and he’s like, ‘This is you, this is me. Here, it’s for you.’ I was like, ‘Do you want me to sign it?’ And he’s like, ‘No, this is for you to have.’ I thought that was really touching and cute. I grew up idolizing baseball players — and, I don’t know, it made my heart melt a little bit.”


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