A look back at the New York Mets home run record “title belt” and each time it changed hands.
There is nothing more powerful in baseball than a home run. In the history of the New York Mets, we have seen plenty of sluggers challenge for the franchise title. It all began in 1962 in the inaugural season of the franchise when Frank Thomas hit 34 home runs.
Thomas was one of many veterans on the early Mets teams whose best days were in the past. At least in his first year with the Amazins, he was able to reach back into his youth and pull out some home runs.
His 34 home runs in 1962 still rank high on the franchise single-season list. It’s tied for 18th with the 34 hit by Bobby Bonilla in 1993 and Cliff Floyd in 2005.
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For more than a decade, Thomas was the single-season Mets home run champion. It wasn’t until 1975 when Dave Kingman smacked 36 that he would finally see his name scratched from the record book.
In typical Kingman fashion, he forced the record keepers to rewrite history yet again in 1975. With 37 home runs that year, a new mark was set for challengers to attempt to beat. Kingman would match the 37 home runs again in 1982 when he returned to New York, but his record wasn’t safe for long.
There are ten individual seasons in Mets history featuring a player with more than 37 home runs. The first to surpass Kingman’s mark was Darryl Strawberry in 1987. The Straw beat him by two with 39 home runs of his own. A year later, he tied his personal best yet again.
Howard Johnson came dangerously close to setting new records. He hit 36 home runs in 1987 and 1989 then knocked 38 out of the park in 1991. Strawberry’s record set in 1987/1988 would stand until 1996 when Todd Hundley did something no other Mets player had before.
Hundley, the team’s catcher, had a year to remember in 1996. While the rest of the league was hitting more home runs than ever before, he decided to join in with 41 dingers. Another Mets catcher, Mike Piazza, would hit 40 home runs of his own in 1999. However, Hundley’s record would go unmatched for another decade.
It was in 2006 when someone finally joined Hundley at the top of the list. Carlos Beltran famously belted 41 home runs of his own, tying the franchise record.
For years, no one came close to dethroning Hundley and Beltran. Carlos Delgado hit 38 home runs twice but no one else ever went beyond 34.
Then came Pete Alonso. The rookie first baseman met and surpassed all expectations in 2019 with 53 home runs in his first season with the club. He obliterated the previous franchise high of 41 and made the powerful years by Hundley and Beltran a little more forgettable.
The Mets home run championship belt changed hands multiple times in franchise history. From Thomas to Kingman to Strawberry to Hundley and then a share of the title with Beltran, it now has its home with the Polar Bear, Pete Alonso.
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How long will Alonso remain the single-season home run champion? If history is any indication, he’ll have it for a while.