The date was July 31, 2019. The New York Mets, who had come out of the All-Star break barely treading water at 10 games under .500, had won five games in a row to start their climb back into contention. Rookie Pete Alonso had been one of the team’s brightest stars of the first half, socking 30 home runs and becoming the second Home Run Derby champion in Mets history. But even after all of that, his legend had only just begun.
Before that night’s contest vs. the Chicago White Sox, Alonso sent out a tweet (he has since deleted his Twitter account, so the tweet is no longer available). It featured a long, heartfelt screenshotted note to Mets fans, imploring them to stick around and support the team with even more ferocity in the second half. Alonso ended the note with a four-letter hashtag that, unlike most Mets-related tweets to that point, was not quite safe for work: #LFGM.
That single tweet from the 24-year-old rookie took off like wildfire. Thousands of fans retweeted it, and his teammates quickly started including “LFGM” in their own tweets.
It immediately became a rallying cry that seeped into every corner of Metsland, garnering press (some positive, some negative) from major New York media outlets.
However, Alonso’s “LFGM” tweet garnered almost universal approval from Mets fans everywhere.
Six days later, on Aug. 5, as the Mets finally climbed back towards the elusive .500 mark, Alonso hit a go-ahead home run against the Marlins to help win the second game of a doubleheader. SNY field reporter Steve Gelbs interviewed him after the game, asking about the new hashtag. Gelbs danced around the exact nature of the phrase, but Alonso gave the roaring crowd exactly what they wanted: He uttered “LFGM” for the first time in front of Mets fans.
When asked in an interview for Mets social media the next day about what, exactly, the “F” stands for in “LFGM,” Alonso had this to say:
“Well, it’s kind of up for interpretation, but all true Met fans know what the F stands for.”
He ended the interview by saying, “As always, LFGM baby, let’s go!”
Though it can’t scientifically be proven, one could argue that Alonso, with that tweet, single-handedly changed the entire trajectory of the Mets. He gave the fans their catchiest rallying cry since “Ya Gotta Believe.” He added swagger and moxie to a team that had just seen its most recent franchise position player, David Wright, retire at the end of the 2018 season. And he helped carry the Mets in the second half, just like he had in the first, nearly vaulting them from 10 games under .500 into a postseason berth.
From his first day on the field, Alonso was never afraid to flip the bat after a home run, jubilantly celebrate after a big play, or rip the jersey off of a teammate after a walk-off. He did all of this as a rookie, on one of the biggest stages in the game. When he reached uncharted territory by hitting his 53rd home run in 2019, setting a new Major League rookie record, the adoring crowd at Citi Field showered him with the raucous affection that he had so earnestly given them throughout the year.
“It’s like, ‘Holy s—, I did it,'” he said in a January 2020 interview. “That’s it. It’s like I can’t believe it. And then seeing all the fans there, I was looking around and everyone’s going crazy and I just couldn’t believe it. Just the positive energy, the energy that the fans were giving off, I felt the love, I felt the energy, I felt the true passion and I felt that that home run meant so much more, so much for the city of New York.”
Off the field in 2019, he was also a key figure of the group of Mets players known as “The Cookie Club,” which took on a life of its own as an SNY web series in 2020 featuring Gelbs, Dominic Smith, J.D. Davis, and occasionally Alonso as an entertaining guest. The concept of “The Cookie Club,” like everything else about Alonso’s magical rookie season, was quickly adopted by Mets fans and was a thoroughly enjoyable way for fans to connect with him and the rest of the club heading into the 2020 season.
Early on in 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Alonso was mic’d up for a Mets-Cardinals Spring Training game by ESPN on March 4. Naturally, his commentary was not entirely PG, and he dropped an F-bomb on live television knowing full well he was mic’d up. Because of course he did. What else would the man who invented “LFGM” say during a baseball game?
Even with no fans in the stands during the 2020 regular season, Alonso carried the “LFGM” lifestyle with him. He eagerly tweeted “LFGM” GIFs when MLB restarted and spoke candidly about the importance of team chemistry throughout the shortened season. Alonso also provided one of the season’s biggest highlights with a walk-off home run against the New York Yankees on Sept. 3. Amid the pouring rain, and with the recent passing of Tom Seaver weighing heavily on Mets brass and fans alike, Alonso gave everyone a much-needed moment of pure levity.
In 2021, the “LFGM” mantra has soared to new heights. Alonso has continued to end every press conference and interview with “LFGM,” as documented by the Mets’ beat reporters. It almost seems like muscle memory to the slugger, as if the essence of “LFGM” is so ingrained with his personality that it would be unthinkable to leave it off at the end of an interview.
Alonso has expanded his “LFGM” brand into many other avenues. He and his teammates frequently wear shirts bearing an “LFGM” logo, often on camera before and after games. Alonso also has his own website, lfgmshop.com, which sells entire collections of shirts dedicated to his various alter-egos and in-game shenanigans. A portion of all proceeds from shirt sales go to Homers for Heroes, the foundation that he started with his fiancée, Haley, in 2020.
In May, Alonso cryptically mentioned a new “approach coach” named Donnie Stevenson in a postgame interview. This, like all of Alonso’s creations, also took on a life of its own, to the point where the Mets eventually hired an actor to play “Donnie Stevenson” in a promotional video for Alonso’s All-Star candidacy.
On July 23, in a game vs. the Toronto Blue Jays, Alonso hit two no-doubt home runs to lead the Mets to victory. That day, a new friend made an appearance in the dugout, also highlighted by Alonso: the Home Run Horse.
Alonso couldn’t resist directly reaching out to the Flushing Faithful after debuting his latest outrageous creation.
“I have no idea what we’re going to name it yet, but yeah, I’m open to suggestions,” he said postgame after its debut appearance. “Fans, do your thing. Let’s hear some suggestions. Something witty and funny.”
Though in this postgame interview, Alonso explained that the horse was suggested by hitting coach Hugh Quattlebaum, it’s hard not to see the Home Run Horse as yet another embodiment of how Alonso’s boisterous personality has become the Mets’ team identity. That’s not to say that the Mets were boring or lacked star power before Alonso came around; when he debuted, Jacob deGrom had just completed one of the most dominant pitching seasons in Major League history. But deGrom’s accomplishments and what Alonso brings to the table are two entirely different animals.
The Mets have had prolific power hitters before, like Wright, Mike Piazza and Darryl Strawberry. They’ve had players with big personalities, like Turk Wendell and Tug McGraw. But it’s hard to imagine that they’ve had a player who earnestly connects with fans, embraces absurdity and embodies on-field star power as much as Alonso does.
Mets fans adore Alonso because he’s not afraid to be profane and ridiculous. He oozes personality with his on-field celebrations, flexing after homers while Dom Smith rolls an imaginary camera. He utters expletives in every possible scenario, including his Rookie of the Year acceptance speech and teammate Trevor May’s vlogs. He lives his stadium life as a hyperbole, blasting the biggest possible home runs and delivering the silliest of sayings in postgame press conferences.
And yet, he still plays the game the right way, always showing respect to his opponents and teammates. He is an extreme baseball player in many respects, which is exactly what Mets fans want. New York is an extreme city.
What’s so remarkable about Alonso is that the idea of “LFGM” doesn’t even begin to cover everything he has contributed to the Mets’ culture and fan base since 2019.
In 2019, again as a rookie, he designed and purchased cleats for the entire team to commemorate 9/11, then donated a pair to the 9/11 museum. In 2020, he successfully lobbied for the Mets to wear first responder caps during their game on 9/11, which MLB allowed them to do for the first time since 2001. In 2021, he became the first Met and only the fourth player ever to win two Home Run Derbies, and did so in resounding fashion. After Steve Cohen bought the team, Alonso was one of the fiercest player advocates for bringing back the black jerseys, which many Mets fans had adored. On July 30, 2021, the black jerseys officially came back.
That’s the Alonso effect in action.
Want your voice heard? Join the Rising Apple team!
Alonso is no longer a rookie. At age 26, he is right in the prime of the movement that he created. The hashtag still trends on Twitter after Mets games, and the phrase is still being printed on shirts and shouted across train platforms. The “LFGM” train shows no signs of slowing down, and neither does Alonso.