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Why This Superstar Pitcher for the Mets Started a Book Club

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When Mr. Syndergaard found himself both injured and isolated at home during the pandemic, he had a lot of down time. He realized he was watching too much Netflix and Bravo (“Tiger King,” “Summer House”) and felt compelled to read more, he said. Starting the book club was also a way for him to stay connected to fans while benched.

At a time when celebrity competitors like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles are encouraging fans to think of professional athletes as multidimensional human beings with feelings and problems and goals outside of sports, the book club has been a way for Mr. Syndergaard to tell the world he is more than simply a baseball player.

“I am not just a robot-athlete baseball player but a human being,” said the 29-year-old, who has managed to persuade many Mets fans to appreciate him for more than his right arm. Some are even reading more.

Ryan Hamilton, 41, who does shipping for Stumptown Coffee and lives in Ridgewood, Queens, goes to about six Mets games a year. “I’m so die-hard that sometimes I have to say to myself, ‘Why are you doing this? You are very heavily invested, and it’s causing you angst,’” he said, laughing.

He came across the book club on Mr. Syndergaard’s Instagram page and joined last month. “I have two kids, and I’m working, and I don’t get that much time to read, so I thought maybe if I sign up for this I will read more?” he said. “It has worked. I now allot time at the end of each night to read a chapter or two. It’s been very relaxing for me.”

Martha Esposito, a freelance writer who lives in Mount Laurel, N.J., appreciates the special connection Mr. Syndergaard generates with Mets fans. “These players get paid for what they do, and then can go home and do nothing else,” she said. “It’s nice that Noah is choosing to interact with his fans, who are actually the ones who pay his salary when you think about it.”

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