New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso won Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby last night during All-Star Game festivities in Cleveland, Ohio, securing a $1-million prize, a portion of which he plans to donate to charities benefiting veterans and first responders.
The first baseman, who is second in Major League Baseball with 30 home runs at the All-Star Break, had already pledged that if he won the derby he would donate 5 percent of the $1-million purse to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and 5 percent to the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). As a rookie, Alonso earns the major league minimum annual salary of $550,000.
The Staten Island, N.Y.-based charity is named for Stephen Gerard Siller, who died responding to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack in Manhattan and benefits first-responders. Both of Alonso’s grandfathers served in the military. Jacksonville, Fla.-based WWP is the larger of the two nonprofits, recording $263 million in total revenue last year, compared with almost $19 million reported by Tunnel to Towers in 2017, the most recent tax form available.
Alonso, a University of Florida alum, edged his opponent in each round, including the finals, defeating fellow rookie, third baseman Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., of the Toronto Blue Jays. Guerrero’s father won the derby in 2007 when it was held in San Francisco, Calif., and he played for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. As the contestant who hit second, Alonso needed to only have one more dinger than Guerrero.
In the first round, Alonso advanced versus Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana, 14-13, and then beat reigning National League Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna, Jr., of the Atlanta Braves, 20-19 in the semifinals. Meanwhile, Guerrero blasted a record 29 home runs in the first round to get past Matt Chapman of the Oakland A’s, and matched that in the second round only to tie Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers, before forcing a “swing-off” tie-breaker and ultimately advancing, 40-39, to the finals.