Cardinals’ Masyn Winn reunited with ball from first MLB hit after Pete Alonso’s snafu

ST. LOUIS — In his second big-league at-bat, Masyn Winn took a hack at a 1-0 curveball from New York Mets left-hander Joey Lucchesi and spiked a high chopper down the third-base line.

“A swinging bunt,” Winn would dub it after the game. It wasn’t the prettiest swing or the highest of exit velocities (a mere 59.8 mph) but no matter. Winn was off to the races on contact, sprinting to first base to beat the throw from third baseman Jonathan Araúz. Winn beamed up at first-base coach Stubby Clapp when first-base umpire John Tumpane signaled safe. Winn had officially recorded his first major-league hit. The only thing left was securing the baseball for safekeeping.

The problem? Pete Alonso had chucked it into the stands.

Alonso, thinking the play was a routine infield single, was still holding the ball when he realized Lucchesi had already received a new one. Alonso turned and hurled the ball into the crowd, inadvertently tossing away a milestone marker for Winn.

St. Louis Cardinals fans immediately broke into boos. The actual Cardinals didn’t react much better, with Miles Mikolas, who played with Alonso on Team USA during the World Baseball Classic this spring, reacting so severely that Tumpane had to pause the game. It was then that Alonso realized his mistake.

“I feel horrible,” Alonso told New York-based reporters after the game. “I feel awful. I didn’t mean to — I know it sounds stupid, but it’s just a bad brain fart. Throwing the ball in the stands, that robs him of a really special moment. But I feel really bad, thinking back on my first hit and just getting the ball thrown back to the dugout.”

“That’s a really bad mistake and completely unintentional.”

Fortunately for both parties, security at Busch Stadium was able to track down the fan who ended up with the baseball and return it to Winn in exchange for a different, signed baseball. Winn planned to give the ball to his mother, Tiffany Rawson, who was in attendance for her son’s debut.

“I had no idea,” Winn said when asked if he had realized Alonso had thrown the ball into the stands. “When I got to first I couldn’t really think about anything else. But I heard Stubby, he was right there. He talked to Pete and he was like, ‘Did you just throw that ball in the stands?’

“(Alonso) apologized on first and then when he got to second later, he apologized as well. So you know, complete accident. I thought it was quite funny, especially after we got the ball back, I thought it was even more funny.”

Winn went 1-for-3 in his much-anticipated major-league debut, serving as a lone bright spot in the Cardinals’ 7-1 loss to New York. It was a whirlwind 24 hours for the Cardinals’ top prospect, who was informed Thursday night he would be batting ninth and playing shortstop for the Cardinals come Friday evening. Winn said he got “maybe a couple” of hours of sleep before reporting to Busch Stadium early Friday afternoon.

A few hours later he was jogging onto the field behind Nolan Arenado and standing in at shortstop while a Busch Stadium crowd gave him a raucous ovation as his name was announced over the public-address system.

“Going out for the first inning and taking in the whole environment, looking around and really just soaking it in calmed me down a little bit,” Winn said. “I thought I was going to be a little more nervous, but I mean just being out there in the whole atmosphere, it was everything I dreamed of. Fans were going crazy, I mean they were all booing Alonso whenever he stepped up to bat. It was a good time. It was a fun night.”

Maybe not totally true for Alonso, who will no longer be throwing balls into stands, at least not any time soon.

“I feel like a piece of crap,” Alonso said. “In the heat of the moment, you kind of just get lost. I got up from trying to make a play, the umpire said we’re going to switch this ball out. OK, I’m going to do what I always do, I always throw the ball in the stands, but I’ll never throw the ball in the stands again. I’m just going to roll every ball to the dugout when they’re going to switch it out.”

“I feel horrible about it,” he added. “I feel really bad. I apologized to him when I was at second after the forceout and I’m really sorry and I’m going to try to talk to him and get him something for tomorrow as an apology. It’s stupid. It’s a really bad look. I feel like an idiot and I feel terrible. I feel really bad.”

It’s been a season of mostly misery for the Cardinals, who fell to 54-69, but as they continue to shift their focus toward 2024, their new shortstop offered some reprieve. Winn is expected to be used as the everyday shortstop, though St. Louis must be mindful of his at-bats. To keep his rookie eligibility intact for the 2024 season, Winn cannot exceed more than 130 at-bats throughout the remainder of the regular season.

One thing is for certain: Winn won’t forget the events that took place in career at-bat No. 2 any time soon.

(Photo of Masyn Winn: Jeff Curry / USA Today)

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