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Mets 1B Alonso to compete in fifth straight Home Run Derby

Pete Alonso New York Mets Pete Alonso - The Canadian Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pete Alonso will participate in his fifth straight Home Run Derby, with the New York Mets first baseman trying to win for the third time.

Kansas City's Bobby Witt Jr., Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson, Philadelphia’s Alec Bohm and Atlanta's Marcell Ozuna also have committed to the July 15 event at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Alonso made the announcement Sunday night on Instagram.

Alonso talked about it more in-depth Monday before the Mets played the Pirates in Pittsburgh. He said he wants to use whatever winnings he earns to refurbish amateur baseball fields through his charitable foundation. Alonso has donated portions of his previous derby prizes to the Wounded Warrior Project aiding wounded service members and Tunnel to Towers, which supports first responders and their families.

“It's something I'm very excited about and I'm happy they asked me because it's an opportunity to give back to the game,” Alonso said. “I want to inspire the youth, get more kids out there playing baseball across the U.S.”

Ken Griffey Jr. is the only three-time champion of the derby, which started in 1985, winning in 1994, 1998 and 1999.

Alonso won the competition in 2019 as a rookie at Cleveland's Progressive Field, edging Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero 23-22 in the final round, then repeated in 2021 at Denver's Coors Field, beating Baltimore's Trey Mancini by the same score. There was no derby in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Alonso was eliminated by Seattle's Julio Rodríguez in the 2022 semifinals at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Juan Soto, then of Washington, went on to win.

Alonso was knocked out 41-21 by Rodríguez last year at Seattle's T-Mobile Park, where Guerrero took the title and joined Vladimir Guerrero Sr. (2007) to become the first father-son duo to accomplish the feat.

“I love participating because it’s a full stadium and the fans are there to see the same thing,” Alonso said. “I think the cool part of our game is seeing balls hit far and hard. I think it’s a great event. I really like doing it because growing up watching it, was like ‘If I have an opportunity to do it, I will.’ Taking me back to 7-year-old me, it’s a dream come true.”