If anyone has footage of Pete Alonso playing in the College World Series in 2015, you may be wondering why he was wearing a face mask on his helmet and even in the field at first base?
Former Florida teammate Jonathan India, who is putting together and impressive rookie season with the Cincinnati Reds this year, was shown an image of Alonso wearing the facemask while appearing on “The Chris Rose Rotation” podcast and provided the amusing backstory to the look.
“He was bunting. Think about Pete Alonso bunting,” India said. “He was bunting off a machine in our cage. I don’t know why he was bunting, like, just hit homers and doubles. He fouled a ball off and hit himself in the face. Bunting. Ricocheted off the bat. Like, OK, Pete just broke his nose.”
However, India’s story may not be totally truthful.
Alonso wore the mask his sophomore season — one year prior to India’s arrival in Gainesville.
A story in the New York Post from 2019 has Alonso detailing that he actually swung at a pitch in the indoor cage and it bounced off the ground and hit him in the nose, breaking his nose.
Perhaps India was given a more embellished version when he joined the team. Or maybe Alonso was embarrassed that he did it bunting and changed it — although the Post story had other teammates recall the story as well.
Knowing Alonso as the slugger he is now, it is pretty unusual to envision any scenario that would require him to bunt.
Regardless, it was a freak accident either way that led to a broken nose.
While on the topic of Alonso, India also spoke about how influential the first baseman was to him when he got there.
“That guy really, really helped me as a player,” he said. “I came in as a kid that had a chip on my shoulder. I was from Miami. I had a flashiness to me, a swag to me. I had all that going. Pete straightened me out and said listen, ‘to play here at Florida, you gotta be professional, clean-cut, but you can still have some of your swagger. Just mix it in.’”
It was not just attitude Alonso helped India with, but also work ethic.
“He made me take 300 groundballs a day at practice,” India said. “I saw him doing it. He was like, ‘this is what it takes. They love this stuff here.’ It really helped me a lot with infield work. I played third at Florida and I never played third before. If it wasn’t for Pete, I don’t know what kind of player I would be because he helped me out on the work ethic side of baseball as well.”
India was recently named the NL Rookie of the Month in July and is looking to follow Alonso’s footsteps as a potential Rookie of the Year as well, hitting a slash line of .284/.403/.450 with 11 home runs, 45 RBI and seven stolen bases.