Edgardo Alfonzo decided to live in Bayside so he wouldn’t have a long commute to work.
He could leave his quiet neighborhood and in less than 20 minutes be at his locker in Shea Stadium, ready to play for his New York fans as a member of what is considered by many to be “the best infield ever.”
His impressive career with the Mets included a trip to the 2000 All-Star Game and consecutive appearances in the post season, where he hit a ninth-inning grand-slam in the first game of the 1999 Division Series and showed a nationwide audience his ability as a clutch player.
More than a decade after leaving the Mets, Alfonzo still lives in Bayside with his family, and is now a proud ambassador for the Mets and this year’s All-Star Game.
This will be the first All-Star Game in Queens since the Mets hosted the contest in 1964.
“I live here and I think it’s time to bring the All-Star Game to the community in New York,” Alfonzo said.
Before the week of All-Star festivities rolls into New York next month, Alfonzo took to an Major League Baseball All-Star bus, a double-decker covered in a photo of David Wright diving for a baseball in the hot corner, to travel throughout Manhattan June 19 and get the word out about the Midsummer Classic.
Alfonzo will be joined by fellow All-Star Game ambassadors Mookie Wilson and John Franco to help kick off the All-Star festivities at the Javits Center on Friday, July 12 for the All-Star FanFest.
This five-day event will give baseball fans the chance to meet current and former players, including Hall of Famers. There will be interactive exhibits, clinics, seminars, as well as collections on loan from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
“They’re going to have fun. They’re going to enjoy the moment because there’s a lot of activities for the kids, for parents,” Alfonzo said. “It’s really exciting and I couldn’t be more excited to do it — to be around with the former players, Hall of Fame guys.
“We’re going to have activities for the kids like learning how to play the game, hit ground balls, run the bases, how to steal. It’s going to be fun,” he added.
Alfonzo will also be a manager for the All-Star Futures Game on July 14, an annual exhibition hosted by MLB that showcases young players.
The 2004 Futures Game introduced the nation to a 21-year-old third baseman named David Wright, who would in time become the current face of the franchise and fourth team captain of the Mets.
Alfonzo decided to become a Club Ambassador for the Mets this year because of his love for the game.
“I’ve been a fan, I played for the Mets for a long time, and I like New York,” Alfonzo said.
The former infielder also said that he enjoyed everything about playing ball in New York.
“First it all started with the fans,” he said. “I really enjoyed the way they treated me over here — they taught me how to play the game.”
“When you’re doing bad they want you to do good,” he said. “And as a player, that’s what you want to hear. You want to know what kind of player you are,” he explained.
Instead of living in Manhattan, Alfonzo opted to live in a residential neighborhood.
“First of all, it was close to the stadium and my family liked the neighborhood. When my kids started going to school, we decided to stay there,” he said.
“I like Bell Boulevard. There’s a lot of restaurants — it’s like a mini-Manhattan,” Alfonzo said, adding that his son now plays in the Bayside Little League. “My kids are going to the school and we really enjoy our time there. It’s nice and quiet and it’s close to the stadium.”
As a fan, Alfonzo likes what he sees from Daniel Murphy and Matt Harvey this year, but emphasized, “As a player, David is a guy who I admire the most.”
While the 2000 World Series was one of the biggest moments of his career, Alfonzo, along with John Olerud, Robin Ventura and Rey Ordonez, will always be remembered for being named “the best infield ever” in 1999.
Alfonzo keeps in touch with Ordonez and Joe McEwing, and now also spends time with Mookie Wilson as a fellow All-Star ambassador, but said that many of his former teammates moved to different cities.
Last year, Alfonzo was named the second baseman of the Mets All-Time Team, showing that to be his mark in New York Mets’ history.
“I am a Mets fan right now and considered a part of the Mets organization as a player, as an ex-player, as a fan, as an ambassador, as everything,” Alfonzo said.
To get the chance to meet the former Mets second baseman and other All-Stars at the FanFest, visit allstargame.com to order tickets.