Piazza to join Mets Hall of Fame in September
Mike Piazza understands what it’s like to be a New York Mets
fan. That’s why his selection for the team’s Hall of Fame means so
much to him
”Sometimes the tough times really define you when you’re going
through the good times,” he said Sunday. ”When you have that sort
of roller-coaster history and some adversity – well, a little bit
more than some.”
Almost always competing with the Yankees for attention, the Mets
entered their 52nd season with just two World Series titles, in
1969 and 1986. The high-spending Bronx Bombers have 27 in a
century-plus of play.
The Yankees represent tradition. The Mets, a National League
replacement after the Dodgers and Giants left for California, will
always be the upstarts. With fewer seats, lower revenue and a
less-glamorous roster than their Bronx rival, the Mets usually feel
That’s why Piazza appreciates the fervor of the fans who cheered
him at Shea Stadium and now hope for a revival after 4 1/2 subpar
seasons in Citi Field.
When the Mets succeed, the re-energized supporters surge with
enthusiasm. Piazza experienced that firsthand when he helped the
club reach the 2000 World Series – only to lose to the Yankees.
”It’s a character thing. I mean, they ride that high with you,
and even though it could be very tough struggling in this city,
it’s what defines this organization,” he said. ”It’s a different
synergy I feel from other teams.”
While the Mets said he will be inducted into their Hall on Sept.
29 during Fan Appreciation Day at Citi Field, Piazza fell short in
his first try for baseball’s Hall of Fame. The burly catcher
received 329 of 569 votes when totals were announced in January,
falling 98 shy of the necessary 75 percent.
”I got a tremendous amount of support. As a player and a
person, you just have to respect processes and understand that this
is the way it’s always been done,” he said. ”There’s been some
great players in history that have had to wait their turn. I’m very
much proud of my career. I’ll put my body of work up against
Piazza realizes some suspect he used performance-enhancing
drugs, even though he never tested positive and no evidence has
been produced connecting him with PEDs. It’s a product of the era
he played in.
”There’s nothing you can do about that,” he said. ”You just
tell your story and live your life and go on.”
He did exactly that this year in his memoir, ”Long Shot.”
Piazza said he never took steroids but did admit to using just
about everything else, including androstenedione, amphetamines,
Creatine, ephedra and a type of asthma medicine that made him more
alert and focused.
Piazza was a 62nd-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in
1988, selected only because manager Tommy Lasorda is his godfather.
He hit 220 of 427 career homers for the Mets, his team from
1998-05, and made seven of his 12 All-Star appearances with New
The former slugger homered to left Sunday in the celebrity
softball game ahead of Tuesday night’s All-Star game, easily
clearing a fence ranging from 241 feet in center to 227 feet down
the foul lines.
Piazza, born in Norristown, Pa., remembered back to the 1996
All-Star game when he was voted MVP of the NL’s 6-0 win at
Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium. Piazza hit a 445-foot home run
into the upper deck in the second inning off Charles Nagy, then
added an RBI double against Chuck Finley in the third.
All in the ballpark where he watched games as a kid.
”Playing in front of where I grew up and winning the MVP there
was unbelievable,” he said. ”It’s a great memory for me.”