The New York Mets gave their fans and city a victory to remember Wednesday night. Playing at home on the, the Mets commemorated first responders and families of the victims before the game, and the team also wore 9/11-inspired cleats emblazoned with the words "We will never forget" — without the approval of the MLB.
Todd Frazier and Jeff McNeil each homered twice, helping the surging Mets stun Arizona Diamondbacks ace Robbie Ray and beat Arizona 9-0. In a striking coincidence, the team finished the victory with 9 runs on 11 hits on 9/11.
Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso, who leads the majors with 47 home runs, coordinated the purchase and production of custom 9/11 cleats for the Mets players, CBS New York reports. The shoes were painted red, white and blue and included lettering for first responder units.
"I want to show support not just to the victims, but to the families as well because no one knows how deep those emotional scars can be. I just want to show recognition to all the people who are heroes," Alonso said after the game. "Ordinary people that just felt the sense of urgency and admirable call for duty. This is for all the people who lost their lives."
After winning the All-Star Home Run Derby in July, Alonso donated $50,000 of his $1 million prize to the Tunnels to Towers Foundation, which supports veterans and first responders.
"I want it to be a day of remembrance," Alonso said. "It's not just a New York thing, it's a United States thing."
SNY, the Mets' broadcaster, reports MLB will not be fining or disciplining Pete Alonso or the Mets in any way for the customized cleats, which they wore without league permission. CBS Sports reported he could potentially have faced a fine from the league for his rogue behavior.
The rookie phenom said he was happy MLB officials didn't "get their hands on" his custom cleats. They echoed back to 2001, when Mets players wore the caps of first responders onto the field against the wishes of MLB. Alonso also wanted to do custom hats, but the idea was rejected by league officials.
The clubs wore first responder hats during batting practice, then lined up on their respective baselines alongside firefighters, police and EMTs prior to the national anthem.
Ahead of the first pitch, children who lost parents or grandparents to 9/11-related illnesses ran to each position before being joined by the Mets' starters. Alonso gave baseballs to the two children at first base while Amed Rosario went to one knee at shortstop to talk to the children there.
In 2001, the Mets hosted their first home game 10 days after the terror attacks. Mike Piazza hit a go-ahead home run to give the Mets a win in what's widely considered to be a moment of healing for the city and nation.