ST. LOUIS — Mickey Callaway was heading to dinner with his parents in St. Louis on Saturday night when he received a phone call from his rookie first baseman, Pete Alonso.
It sounded some alarms in the mind of the manager.
Callaway didn’t know what to make of the call initially. When your first baseman’s name is popping up on your phone on a night off, it’s usually not good news. But Alonso just wanted to let his manager know he knew the pitcher the Cardinals were throwing, Dakota Hudson, and he was eager to face him again.
“He’s calling and texting me,” Callaway said. “He said, ‘Hey, I want to play tomorrow. I hate this guy. I played against him college.’ I don’t know what he was saying, he was going nuts.”
The former Florida Gator had battled the former Mississippi State Bulldog in the SEC and from a summer in the Cape Cod League. Alonso also knew the Mets were considering resting him for the series finale against the Cards. He had been hit on the hand with a pitch in the second game of the series Saturday. It turned out to be nothing but a “little boo-boo,” as he put it, but he recognized Sunday could have been an opportunity to rest him.
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The last thing Alonso wanted was to rest against Hudson.
“He called me last night and said, ‘You better put me in the game,’” Callaway said.
Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) celebrates with manager Mickey Callaway (36) after hitting a solo home run off of Cardinals starting pitcher Dakota Hudson. (Photo: Jeff Curry, USA TODAY Sports)
Alonso tried to shrug off the notion of a rivalry but it was too late. His manager had inadvertently turned the storyline into a full-blown feud that had the internet speculating the root of the strife for hours until the first pitch.
Was it over a girl? Did Hudson cheat at cards?
The alleged feud hit a fever pitch when Alonso stepped into the box to face Hudson in the first inning. He got a 1-0 cutter and got ahold of it. Alonso nearly hit the ball through the arch into Illinois for a solo home run. His moonshot went 444 feet to dead center.
Dexter Fowler didn't even turn around to see where it would land.
"He's shoved it against me before," Alonso said. "So it was really nice to play well."
Alonso only faced him a few times in college with the last time coming back in 2016. Hudson had his number: Alonso went 0-for-4 against him. He did have one hit off him in the Cape but he didn't remember that one. The at-bats he remembered were the ones where he came up empty.
"Dakota, he got me pretty good in college and in the Cape," Alonso said. "I've seen him before and I just really wanted to play today because I faced him previously. I've faced him since college and so I had a pretty good scouting report on him and I'm happy I was in the lineup today."
As it turns out, there was no bad blood between the two of them. Alonso has never even met Hudson. They didn't even get a chance to converse at first base later in the game when Hudson reached on an error. With the bases loaded, Alonso couldn't hold him on the bag.
The frantic call to Callaway the night before? He just wanted to let Callaway know his hand was in good shape. He reiterated that to Callaway at the team hotel Saturday night, a few hours after he blew up his phone.
Alonso had no idea it had become a dramatic storyline to a game that featured quite a few.
"I just wanted to let him know that I was OK to play," Alonso said. "I just wanted to let him know I was ready to rock and roll."
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