Mike Piazza Voted Into Baseball Hall of Fame
Mike Piazza at Thursday's Hall of Fame press conference. (Bob Ahrens : WFUV Sports)
On Wednesday, January 6th, the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced the results of this year’s Hall of Fame balloting, as voted on by qualified members of the BBWAA. In the first prime time reveal of the soon-to-be newest members of the Hall, Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson announced Mike Piazza (along with Ken Griffey Jr.) would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July.
The Dodgers drafted Piazza in 1987 with the 1390th overall pick. And getting picked at all was lucky, as it essentially happened due to Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda being Piazza’s godfather. But while he was a long shot, he never let that stop him. At the introductory press conference for Piazza and Griffey at the New York Athletic Club the following day, Piazza extolled the virtues of hard work, and how he saw so many players drafted before him with more talent than him not make it to the majors due to a lack of hard work.
Work hard Piazza did, as he had to learn on the fly how to be a catcher, arguably the toughest position in baseball, while also trying to progress through the minors and prove he wasn’t just a product of nepotism. And while he did have his faults defensively – though less so than often remembered – his true gift, his power bat, eventually got him to the major league club in 1992 for a cup of coffee, followed by playing a full season in 1993, and being named an All-Star and winning NL Rookie of the Year.
This was the beginning of an illustrious career for Piazza, but of course it wasn’t all in Los Angeles. The Dodgers traded him to the Marlins in 1998, a result of new ownership buying the team, and Piazza being in the final year of his contract. However, the Marlins were in a tumultuous time themselves, being in the midst of a fire sale, and flipped Piazza to the Mets just eight days later.
And while Piazza may not have started his career in New York, and had strong roots in Los Angeles with Lasorda, and didn’t preform right out of the gate so the New York fans didn’t really love him, he eventually became one of the most beloved Mets of all-time. Piazza loved, and still loves, the Mets and their fans right back.
The beginning of Piazza’s tenure with the Mets coincided with their best years since the 1986 World Series, including winning the National League Pennant in 2000, and facing the Yankees in the 2000 World Series, which they lost 4-1, though each loss was by two or less runs.
It was the next year, however, where Piazza cemented his New York legacy. On September 21st of 2001, the Mets were playing the Braves in the first game in New York since 9/11. With the Mets down 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Piazza hit a two-run homer that opened the floodgates. All of a sudden, it was okay to care about relatively trivial things like sports again. It was okay to not spend every moment afraid again. By playing America’s game the way he knew best – smacking homeruns – Piazza did his part to heal America.
When he formed that tie with the Mets, it was one that was never broken. Even though he wouldn’t finish his career in a Mets uniform (he played for the Padres then the A’s to close his career), it was very clear that he was a true Met lifer. And he made that fact clear in his announcement at the press conference on Thursday, where he said that he would indeed be wearing a Mets hat on his plaque in the Hall of Fame.
Mike Piazza: the best hitting catcher of all-time, a Hall of Famer, and forever a New York Met.
To listen to Mike Piazza speak about Mets fans, click play below.