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

like underdogs.

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

anybody.”

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

York.

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.”