The former Major League Baseball infielder and current manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones, stopped by JHS 190 at 68-17 Austin Street to share his inspiring story, participate in a Q&A with the kids and teach them some baseball basics.
“Every time I have the opportunity to talk to kids about life, about sport or anything, it makes me so happy because it’s priceless,” Alfonzo said. “Hopefully out of the things I say to them, they keep at least one thing with them.”
Alfonzo will be honored at Queens Community House’s Strengthening Neighborhoods Inspiring Change Gala on October 23 at the Museum of the Moving Image for his philanthropy and volunteerism in Queens.
QCH’s Beacon Program provides free, year-round programming for youth with a focus on leadership development and skill building.
“These kids are at an age where they could really understand the impact that he’s made,” said QCH communications coordinator Jennifer Weil. “We bring in role models like Alfonzo so that their imagination can be sparked.
“We’re building leaders, and between the ages of 11 and 13 are really good ages to inspire,” Weil added. “They can hear about the impact he made, but also have them see their own potential.”
Of all his community involvement projects, Alfonzo said visiting schools and giving advice is his favorite. It’s something he started doing during his playing time with the Mets and continued long afterwards.
“Not everyone has the opportunity to go to the stadium and watch a game or go to the court to watch a basketball game, so if I have the opportunity to reach out to them, and spend a few minutes with them, it’s huge,” he said.
“I try to make kids see the positives in life, whether they’re doing a sport or not,” he added. “I try to make them see what they can accomplish in the their own lives in the future, and the impact they can create in a good way for their families.”
He fielded questions from program participants about professional baseball, the 2000 World Series against the Yankees, and how he handled his nerves as a professional athlete.
He admitted that his nerves prevented him from eating for two days prior to the World Series.
“If you had the opportunity to become a baseball player again, would you do it?” asked program participant Alex.
“I would do it again if I had the chance,” Alfonzo responded. “But I’ve been coaching now, and there’s a lot of motivation for me to help those kids because I see myself in them.”
Alex was one of eight kids who participated in a “throw-and-catch” challenge with Alfonzo inside the school’s gym.
Former White House chief of staff Jacob Lew will also be honored at the October 23rd gala.
The two men were chosen due to their longstanding commitment to communities within Queens and the local area.
“Our honorees have been inspiring role models for the people in our borough,” said QCH executive director Ben Thomases. “Both have achieved great success in their fields, but remain humble in their commitment to service.”